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Murray owns Duckworth in bionic men battle

3 minute read

James Duckworth's big day on the Wimbledon centre court stage against the venue's biggest hero has ended in victory for the indefatigable Andy Murray.

JAMES DUCKWORTH.
JAMES DUCKWORTH. Picture: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

James Duckworth has succumbed in the battle of the medical miracle men, ground down under the centre-court lights by Wimbledon's ever-beloved hero Andy Murray.

The endlessly resilient Duckworth, who's bounced back from 10 surgeries, was still no match for the man with the metal hip as Murray, cheered to the rafters by his centre-court disciples, came from a set down to win 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 on Monday night.

Sydney's Duckworth, trying to become the first man to knock out the two-time Wimbledon champion in the first round at his home slam, scented blood against the Scottish veteran who's been struggling recently with an abdominal injury, and took the opening stanza in fine style.

But his wretched recent sequence of eight straight tour-level losses continued as a match that began as an outdoor battle ended under the illuminated roof at 9.35pm at the All England Club.

Duckworth had been left muttering to the chair umpire about not being able to see properly as the darkness crept in during the third set, hoping for the roof to be closed.

It eventually was near the end of that stanza at Murray's request, leaving Duckworth to moan to the official: "If he asks, they come on ..."

There was a new spark to Duckworth's game after the 10-minute break for the roof to be closed but, with the scores locked at 4-4, the Australian delivered a nervy service game, coughing up a double fault to gift the decisive break.

Seventeen years since his first centre-court win, Murray then closed out the victory in two hours 43 minutes, proving still that he has a granite will to go with the metal hip.

And the 35-year-old told them: "I'm getting on a bit now so I don't know how many opportunities I will get here.

"I'm pleased I managed to get through and hopefully I will get another match here on centre in a couple of days."

He can be assured of that when he faces the giant American John Isner, who fired down a remarkable 54 aces in his five-set win over France's Enzo Couacaud.

Isner's ATP career count of aces now stands at 13,688 - just 40 shy of Ivo Karlovic's mark, so a world record could be on the cards on Wednesday.

The crowd might even expect a few new tricks from the old master Murray, who even chucked in an under-arm serve in the third set - the first anyone could ever remember seeing from him.

As for the ever-willing Duckworth, the four months out following his hip surgery earlier this year have meant he's had to play catch-up after reaching a career-high 46 at the start of the year.

But three-times Wimbledon champion John McEnroe, watching from the BBC box, had an encouraging message for the Australian.

"Hopefully, he can stay healthy for a while because I like the way he plays. After his career high, he's had hard times - but there's still hope at 30," the American great said.

The words provided some consolation for Duckworth. "That's pretty cool, Johnny Mac saying that," he reflected.

"I've played some pretty good tennis in the last year and gradually been improving since my hip operation but I'm still not quite at the level I was last year, but I believe I can again.

"The next big goal is to get into the best shape possible and into the best form tennis-wise to perform well in the US Open."

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