Australian James Duckworth has outlasted compatriot Ben Mitchell in a gripping first round match at Australian Open 2013 on Tuesday, winning 6-4 7-6 (8) 4-6 5-7 8-6 in a marathon encounter that lasted well over four hours.
With two locals in action, it was a standing room only crowd on Court 2, and they got value for money as the match ebbed and flowed over four hours and 26 minutes. Duckworth took a two-sets-to-love lead before Mitchell stormed back. When Duckworth finally broke Mitchell’s serve in the 14th game of the fifth set for the win - Mitchell sailed a forehand long at 30-40 to surrender - the two hugged at the net.
“It’s always good to win at a Grand Slam,” Duckworth said.
“On the other hand, I still kind of feel for Benny. He’s a good mate of mine and he’s pretty disappointed.”
Duckworth has family history to live up to at his home Grand Slam tournament. In 1955, his grandmother Beryl Penrose won the Australian National title in singles and doubles.
Throughout the match, Duckworth was setting himself up to take the lead, but Mitchell is quite the scrapper, and kept finding a way back. Mitchell finally lost his touch in the final game of the match when he was unable to hold his serve.
“I haven’t been practicing well at all so my confidence was pretty low going out,” Mitchell said.
“Once I started feeling the ball it showed what one match can be when you turn it around.”
Duckworth was the more aggressive player, winning 20 of 29 serve-and-volley points. In contrast, Mitchell won all of his serve-and-volley points, but that amounted to only two throughout the five sets.
Duckworth won more points (208-199) and posted 61 winners to Mitchell’s 56. Mitchell had fewer unforced errors (71-77), but couldn’t make that advantage count when it mattered most.
Duckworth arrived at Australian Open 2013 off of a first-round loss at Sydney and a second round qualifying loss at Brisbane.
Like Duckworth, the 20-year-old Mitchell is not without his own famous relative. His brother, Luke, is an actor who stars in the Australian soap opera, Home and Away.