James Duckworth has put together a fine season on the ATP Tour, and is gaining deserved recognition for it after a plethora of surgeries and career setbacks.
He has reached his maiden final in Nur-Sultan, recorded 22 wins after only posting 25 from 2012 through to the end of 2020, he has defeated three top 20 players, progressed to his first Grand Slam third round, battled through to his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal and next week he will be ranked inside the top 50 for the first time.
This week he went as far as to almost defeat Turin bound Hubert Hurkacz in the Paris quarterfinal, falling agonisingly short of his first top 10 victory with the 2-6, 7-6, 5-7 defeat.
That sounds like a lot, right? So why has James Duckworth not been selected to don the green and gold at the Davis Cup Finals at the end of the month?
Captain Lleyton Hewitt has opted to go with Alex de Minaur, John Millman, Jordan Thompson, Alexei Popyrin and John Peers.
Only Peers has the form to rival that of Duckworth with what he and partner Filip Polasek have been able to put together on the doubles court this year.
Now de Minaur is the Aussie number one, and will fight until he can’t fight anymore, but following his second title of the season at Eastbourne, he has won only four matches for eleven losses.
In his defence, the 22-year-old did suffer from Covid-19, so there may be lingering effects from the illness that has resulted in the form slump.
On the other hand, Jordan Thompson has gone 21 wins at 50% on the tour this season but has suffered nine losses to players outside the top 100, and has really struggled to find the consistency that saw him crack the top 50 two years ago.
Popyrin has the game to do some serious damage, and absolutely obliterated de Minaur in Paris this week and saluted for his maiden title in Singapore earlier in 2021, but like the others, his back end of the season has failed to live up to the heights that most expected from him.
That leaves John Millman, who will give you more than he can offer on every day of the week, and his commitment goes unquestioned.
His results in 2021 have been good, but not great.
There have been some soul crushing defeats and if those went the other way, tennis pundits would be talking about his solid year, especially with how extremely difficult it has been for Australian players, who haven’t been able to travel home due to pandemic protocols.
Each member of the quintet can play exquisite tennis, that is evident, but there is absolutely no way that all five are in better form than James Duckworth.
The fact that the 29-year-old’s season and current form cannot get him into the Davis Cup team is quite baffling, bemusing, confusing, dumbfounding and every other superlative you can find.
Lleyton Hewitt’s thought process here is very unclear, it makes absolutely no sense as to why Duckworth is not ahead of Thompson, Popyrin and even Millman, two of which he has defeated in recent months.
The only solace to be taken is that Duckworth’s status as the second ranked Australian in singles will allow him to take part in the 2022 ATP Cup in January.
But that being said, it doesn’t help the confusion of his omission.
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