He’s been inspired and enthralled by Andy Murray and now James Duckworth will share tennis’s greatest stage with the former world No.1 after landing a first-day Wimbledon blockbuster.
Far from daunted, Duckworth is relishing the chance to joust with the dual champion on Wimbledon’s hallowed centre court on Monday.
“I can’t wait to get out there. That’s why you play tennis – to get out there in those environments,” Duckworth said after striking Murray in the first round at Friday’s draw.
“As a young player I watched him. I always loved watching him play.
“The first time at Aussie Open, when he had a five-setter with Rafa, from then onwards I really enjoyed watching his matches.”
Duckworth, who rose to Australian No.2 late last year after a steely revival from a multitude of foot, elbow, shoulder and hip surgeries, has lost both his previous meetings with Murray.
But they were tight, including a four-set grand slam encounter at the 2018 US Open.
“He’s obviously an incredible player, an amazing career, still going … it’s obviously very cool to see him still going with all the injury that he’s had on his hip,” Duckworth said.
“He’s sort of someone I looked up to. He’s been through a lot physically. I’ve had 10 surgeries as well.
“Someone like that is pretty inspirational.”
A 14th Wimbledon campaign seemed a world away when a teary Murray announced at the 2019 Australian Open that he planned to retire after one last appearance at SW19 that year.
“It looked like he was in a tough situation (at the time with his career),” Duckworth said.
“He had to get a metal hip. No-one has come back and played singles with that before.
“I know a couple of guys who are playing doubles. I actually know a rugby league player who’s played with it.
“It’s pretty cool to see that someone can fight their way back from that.”