Duckworth regrets missed chance at Sofia Open | The Canberra times

Australian James Duckworth was the image of frustration after his recent breakthrough run at the Sofia Open came to a frustrating end, where he failed to take advantage of his chances of beating rising star Jannik Sinner again in the quarterfinals. Duckworth had both sets against the young Italian under control on Friday, but saw a point in the first sentence disappear and then couldn’t fend off Sinner’s late climb in the second, as he suffered a 7: 6 (7: 4) 6: 4 defeat that left him mumbling to himself unhappily at the end of the game. It meant the end of the Australian challenge at the ATP hard court event in the Bulgarian capital, after John Millman had previously been beaten 6: 4 6: 2 in the round of 16 against the American Marcos Giron. Duckworth’s consolation after a third outstanding week in a row, in which he reached an ATP final at the Astana Open for the first time after a Challenger tournament triumph in Istanbul, is that he will officially become Australia’s No. 2 men’s next week. However, this award hardly seemed to appease the 29-year-old Sydneysider, who had to curb considerable frustrations after his one-hour and 54-minute defeat against number 14 in the world rankings Sinner, the defending champion and top setter in Sofia. Duckworth, who has now risen to the top 56 of his career in the rankings after starting the year outside the top 100, had beaten the 20-year-old Italian at his last meeting at the ATP Canadian Masters in Toronto in August and largely made his start dominated again set in Sofia. He took a 3-0 lead, then 5-2, as he was rewarded for his extremely aggressive approach. Nine times in three games in the opening movement, Duckworth was only two points away from taking the verse, and he even had a setpoint of 6-5 just for Sinner to crash a big delivery. Duckworth was unhappy with a line call overrule by the umpire in that penultimate game, which seemed to distract him as he lost the first four points in the breaker. Even so, he fought his way back to break Sinner in the opening game of the second game and kept attacking, even a breakpoint that would have put him in another 5-2 lead. But the Italian then really proved his quality, saving that game before getting the broken key back when Duckworth made his first double fault of the game and shifted up a gear to annex the last two games. “It feels very good,” said Sinner in court. “It was a very, very tough game. I lost the last one to him and he was in a very positive position so it wasn’t easy for me.” Previously, Millman’s hopes for his second ATP Tour title had been dashed in an exchange of blows with Giron, who again proved to be too strong on the big points, just as he had done the day before when he was Australia’s number 1 Alex de Minaur defeated in straight sets. The 32-year-old Millman had reached his first Tour semifinals since the Astana Open around this time last year when he took his first title. But his defeat marks the end of his time as Australia’s No. 2 as he slips down the rankings next week behind Duckworth, Alexei Popyrin and Jordan Thompson to become the fifth-placed domestic top performer. Australian Associated Press

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