They say cats have nine lives, but how many does a ‘Duck’ have? At least five, it seems, but that’s all.
A gallant James Duckworth saved five match points in his second round men’s singles match against Slovenian Blaz Kavcic on Show Court 3 on Thursday, but the Australian wildcard couldn’t save a sixth, with Kavcic triumphing 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-7(3) 10-8 in a match that lasted four hours and 52 minutes.
The epic fifth set lasted 89 minutes alone, with both players limping to the line on a day when the temperature reached 40 degrees in Melbourne.
Kavcic needed medical time outs for a leg injury during the set, while Duckworth received treatment on his ankle in the third set and appeared to be struggling with cramp in the final stages of the match.
Kavcic had an early break in the deciding set, leading 2-0, but Duckworth soon levelled at 2-all.
The Slovenian again sneaked ahead and served for the match at 5-3. He was broken, but earned a match point on the Duckworth serve at 5-4. Duckworth saved it, tying the set at 5-all.
Kavcic had a further three match points at 6-5 on the Duckworth serve, but couldn’t convert.
A large patriotic crowd was getting behind the Australian, showing their support by quacking and trying to get him across the finish line.
Kavcic, aged 25 and ranked 98, kept fighting, and games continued on serve to 9-8 before a tired Duckworth fell to 0-40 on his serve.
Duckworth, aged 20 and ranked 223, managed to save another match point, Kavcic’s fifth, but that was it. A Duckworth forehand floated long on the next point to hand Kavcic victory.
Kavcic now moves into the third round of a grand slam for the first time in his career, where he will face Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the No. 7 seed.
Duckworth’s loss means Bernard Tomic, who won his second round match against German Daniel Brands in four sets today, is the sole Australian player left in the men’s and women’s singles draw.
A disappointed Duckworth admitted the loss was hard to take.
“I'm not too happy right now,” 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. I let it slip.”
He took nothing away from Kavcic though, who went into full body cramp after the match.
“He fought hard as well,” Duckworth said. “He didn't give an inch. He was too good today. I pride myself on my competitive ability and we both just were hanging on for dear life. Unfortunately he came away with it in the end.”