Murray Rallies Past Duckworth At Wimbledon
There are few players who understand what Andy Murray has been through to return to the tennis court and compete at the highest level, but James Duckworth, who in January underwent hip surgery, is one of them. Although the resilient Australian put up a fight on Monday evening, it was the two-time Wimbledon champion who clawed into the second round.
After a slow start on Centre Court, Murray rallied past Duckworth 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to advance at Wimbledon. The Scot will next play 20th seed John Isner, against whom he owns an 8-0 ATP Head2Head record.
"It was amazing to be back out here again with a full crowd," Murray said in his on-court interview. "Amazing atmosphere. Obviously I'm getting on a bit now, so I don't know how many more opportunities I [will] get to play on this court, so I want to make the most of every time I get to come out here now. Glad I managed to get through it and hopefully get another match on here in a couple of days."
Murray has made slow, but steady progress since undergoing his second right hip surgery in 2019. Earlier this month, he returned for a week to the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time since the week of 28 May 2018. The 35-year-old has shown good form, however, advancing to the final in Stuttgart, where he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios.
That is why it was a surprise when Duckworth surged to a one-set lead behind fearless tennis. The Australian in January underwent a hip operation — his ninth surgery — and arrived at the All England Club with an 0-7 tour-level record this season.
But once Murray found rhythm in the match and combined his counter-punching with timely moves forward, he seemed to have the match in hand. The Scot hit 15 aces and won 85 per cent of his first-serve points in his two-hour, 43-minute win, but also showed his variety in cat-and-mouse points, even throwing in an underarm serve.
"I thought I did well to rebound after the first set. He likes playing on the grass. He's come back from a hip surgery himself in January and was playing very well," Murray said. "Once I started to find my returns a little bit more as the match went on, I felt a bit more comfortable. Did well to get through it."
Tournament organisers closed the roof after the third set to allow the pair to complete the match with darkness rolling in. "It's not that easy, changing conditions like that, and also having breaks like that, potentially key points in matches," Murray said.
The set was even for the most part with both men taking care of their serve until 4-4. Duckworth saved the first break point he faced with an aggressive backhand. But the World No. 74 dumped a double fault into the net to hand Murray the decisive advantage. The former World No. 1 did not relinquish his opportunity. The match came to an anticlimactic ending on an incorrect Duckworth challenge, but Murray showed how much it meant with several fist pumps and a big roar.
it's not that easy, changing conditions like that, and also having breaks like that, potentially key points in matches. I would much rather play outdoors. I prefer playing outdoors when we can.