Newly qualified James Duckworth will introduce himself to Australian tennis this weekend, while the country’s number one Alex de Miñaur will learn exactly how he is going, against two of the world’s top 10 in a tough ATP Cup test in Sydney
- James Duckworth will make his ATP Cup debut this weekend after years of injuries and missed opportunities that have kept him out of the team.
- Australia opens its account on Sunday against Italy, while Russia, led by US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, will face France.
- Italy distrusts the “demon” of Miñaur, who pushed Rafael Nadal to the limit in the same event in 2019
Duckworth has gone from 105 to 49 in the world rankings this year, climbing the charts to become Australia’s second-highest ranked man.
Beating his fellow top 100 talents Alexei Popyrin, John Millman, Jordan Thompson and Nick Kyrgios to a spot on Lleyton Hewitt’s team, is the moment the 29-year-old is in the limelight after years. ruined by injuries and near misses.
“No, I didn’t think I would be here (a year ago), but I’ve had a pretty good year,” Duckworth said of his ATP Cup spot.
“I went home in the middle of the year after Miami, I had a great training block with coach Wayne Arthurs, I was very clear about my style of play and it took me a couple of months to gain some confidence, play aggressively and the results continued. getting better”. . “
Duckworth dominated at the Challenger level and then took that higher form, reaching his first ATP final and losing a tight quarter-final of the Paris Masters to world number nine, Hubert Hurkacz.
“He has always had setbacks throughout his career – continuing to recover and respond is something we are all very proud of,” Hewitt said.
“He does absolutely everything right and it’s great that he’s succeeding now … now, it’s just about cementing that spot in the top 50.”
The Sydney-based event kicks off on Saturday, but Australia will begin its campaign against Italy on Sunday, ahead of clashes with Russia and France, which have replaced Austria.
Italy boasts world number seven Matteo Berrettini and 20-year-old world number 10 Jannik Sinner, while Lorenzo Sonego (27) and Fabio Fognini (37) round out what Hewitt considers the deepest team in the event.
Russia is led by US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, while Frenchman Ugo Humbert ranks one place behind De Minaur at world number 35.
“This is the beauty of the ATP Cup … I’ve experienced it before and it’s a great way to see where I am and a great challenge,” said de Miñaur.
“I hope there is a packed crowd, I am looking forward to getting back out there and racing.”
“It’s just a great opportunity for me to test myself against these best guys.”
Berrettini distrusts De Minaur, and carries memories of when the brave sprinter pushed Rafael Nadal to “crazy” limits at the event two years ago.
“This environment leads him to play his best tennis, so it is going to be a very tough game,” he said.
“But I like this kind of thing: like full stadiums and people are cheering for you or against you. I’m really looking forward to that game.”
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