Aussie James Duckworth has had one of the toughest losses of his career, going down in five sets to Spaniard Pedro Martinez in the opening round of the US Open.
Duckworth was set to win a match at all four majors in the same season for the first time in his career but surrendered a 2 sets to love lead to go down 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 2-6, 2-6.
The loss came after the Australian held 5 match points during the third set.
Duckworth started well and claimed the last 8 points of the first set, holding and breaking to luv to clinch it 6-4. A superb backhand winner at 0-30 on the Martinez serve set up three set points in the 10th game and he converted at the first chance.
Duckworth had controlled much of the opening set, dropping only 4 points on his serve and picking up 16 points on return as well as striking 18 winners to 9.
The second set was almost a carbon copy of the first, with Duckworth getting consistent looks at the Martinez serve without landing the key break.
That was until the 10th and final game when the Spaniard sprayed a backhand at break point to again lose the set 6-4.
Duckworth would win 10 of 12 points at the net with strong volley’s backing up his impressive service numbers in the second set.
Martinez ground strokes were much cleaner in the second but he was still unable to get any meaningful looks when the Australian was serving.
The third set tracked a similar way, on serve with Martinez now holding more comfortably until Duckworth created a match point on the Martinez serve at 5-6. He failed to convert and missed four more match point chances in the tie-break, one of them with a double fault.
Martinez forced a fourth set when another error came off the Duckworth racquet.
The match turned further early in the fourth as the errors grew from Duckworth. 8 unforced errors to 0 in the opening six games of the set created a chance for Martinez to break which he capitalised on for a 4-2 lead.
He would break again to claim the set 6-2 and the momentum was with the Spaniard.
In the fifth set Duckworth wrestled back some early control with some strong returns leading to an early break and a 2-0 lead.
The advantage quickly evaporated though as Martinez rattled off 6 games in a row to claim the fifth 6-2.
The Unforced error count from the start of the third set tie break until the end of the match was 53-25 with Duckworth’s game dropping away.
Duckworth held a career high ranking of 67 after reaching the third round in Toronto on the back of the second top 20 win of his career, a straight sets triumph over emerging Italian Jannik Sinner.
This is the 10th time he has played a five set match at grand slam level.
24 year old Martinez is enjoying a career best season and is currently ranked 73 in the world.
Listen to The First Serve with Brett Phillips and Sam Groth as they discuss the US Open – 6.30pm-8pm AEST next Monday 6th September on 1116AM SEN Melbourne, 1629AM SEN SA / replayed at 8pm AEST on 1170am Sydney or listen live and catch up on the SEN App.
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