Duckworth misses out on Djokovic date

·2-min read

James Duckworth could glimpse his best-ever chance of making the third round of a grand slam - and a showcourt date with the world no.1 Novak Djokovic - but he's ended up feeling he's missed the boat again in Paris.

The Sydneysider Duckworth, who's been slogging around the world at slams for 11 years, had harboured hopes at the French Open that Thursday might be the day he at last made the last-32 at one of the big ones.

"I mean there's not too many better second rounds than that at a Slam so I saw it as a pretty big opportunity," said the 29-year-old as he pondered his second draw against Ricardas Berankis, a similarly experienced Lithuanian ranked just eight places above him at 93.

"I assumed Novak would win and I was pretty keen to play him. I'd never played him, but I'd played the other big three (Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray)."

Djokovic did his bit, strolling through in straight sets against Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, but Berankis spoiled the script, leaving Duckworth to rue missed chances in a 7-5 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-0 defeat.

After he'd dug in so well to earn his first round victory in four sets over Italian Salvatore Caruso, 'Ducks', No.101 in the world, started confidently to move into a 5-2, 30-0 lead in the opening set.

"Disappointed. It's an opportunity gone begging," sighed Duckworth.

"That first set was a tough one to lose - having that lead and then getting broken.

"Bounced back well in the second and made all the running in that third set but I couldn't take advantage. Then one loose point, a double fault first up, and I lose the tiebreak. Not a great day..."

By the fourth set, he was also struggling physically after his draining first round win over Salvatore Caruso and he failed to win another point off the Berankis serve.

A virtuoso backhand service return from the 30-year-old - his 47th winner - finally sealed his win - and the Djokovic date - after two hours 39 minutes.