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Duckworth cramps badly in tough Open loss
By John Salvado
19:59 AEST Thu Jan 17 2013

James Duckworth had never experienced anything like it on a tennis court.

And as his Australian Open opponent Blaz Kavcic collapsed in the changerooms with a full body cramp and had to be treated with morphine, it's fair to assume he was in uncharted territory too.

But after four hours and 52 minutes - the longest match to date at the Australian Open - and in temperatures pushing 40 degrees, it was the Slovenian who was on the right side of the 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 10-8 scoreline.

And Duckworth who was lamenting a great opportunity lost.

The 20-year-old wildcard twice came back from a break down in the deciding set.

He also saved five match points before finally being overwhelmed, suffering such severe cramps in both legs that his only aim was to end points as quickly as possible.

"From about 3-2 in the fifth, my hamstring and quads were locking up," said Duckworth.

"It started off just on serve and then when I was moving around the baseline.

"Any kind of sharp movement or quick movement and I'd lock up."

Then there was the heat.

"The court actually felt really hot underfoot," he said.

"My feet were burning every time I pushed off to sprint.

"I was sweating bucketloads.

"It was tough conditions."

Even so, the main emotion for Duckworth in the aftermath was disappointment, as victory would have meant a glamorous third-round clash with No.7 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

"I was pretty shattered," he said.

"I probably didn't play my best tennis today.

"It was a big opportunity to play in the third round of a grand slam against Tsonga and I let it slip."

Surely no one has done it tougher than Duckworth in the past three days at Melbourne Park.

In addition to his two arduous singles five-setters against close friend Ben Mitchell and Kavcic, his first-round doubles match with partner Chris Guccione on Wednesday also went to a tiebreaker in the deciding set.

And Duckworth lost that one too.


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