James Crabtree is currently in Melbourne Park covering the Australian Open for Tennis Grandstand and is giving you all the scoop directly from the grounds.
By James Crabtree
MELBOURNE — There were plenty of bigger names playing on bigger courts, but this match was a classic.
Two fighters, James Duckworth and Blaz Kavcic, going toe to toe, slugging it out until one dropped to the canvas on the count. It was pure Rocky and Apollo Creed.
Everyone was dropping like flies, not just the players but the fans. The heat was 40 degrees Celsius which translates to 104 Fahrenheit, probably more like 1004 degrees on court with nowhere to hide.
And if they weren’t dropping they were gasping at the jaw-dropping play.
Nothing against you Blaz Kavcic, but before we go any further this is a brutally bias tribute to the twenty-year-old Australian from New South Wales and current world number 223, James Duckworth. Indeed, Blaz of Slovenia was battling not just his opponent but a partisan home crowd the umpire had to constantly keep in check.
“Ducky,” who might train by running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Arthad, had a bad start losing his opening service game. He did rebound quickly to break Kavcic twice and take the first set. Kavcic bounced back, as in any Hollywood script, taking the next two sets before Duckworth re-grouped in a tense tie-breaker, to the hallowed home fan chants “QUACK QUACK QUACK QUACK” for the inevitable fifth set.
Experts say that towards the end of five-set matches, players’ reaction times may slow by up to a quarter of a second and this was truly evident as both had trouble moving between points.
The fifth set was a drama, Kavcic taking the lead before Ducky rallied from 5-2 down fighting off match points. Now, during points only adrenaline seemed to push them through. Both men were calling out in pain, sending for trainers, cramping, limping and grimacing. It was a wonder how they could hit the ball over the net at all.
The Duck admitted later ‘‘We both were just hanging on for dear life.’’
Blaz ran out the winner 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-7(3) 10-8
“Total physical collapse after the match.. feeling quite happy though, just don’t know, because of my win or morphine ” said Blaz later on Twitter although he admitted soon after the morphine reference was a joke.
Ducky left the court screaming “Adrian Adrian,” although I may be making that part up for effect. Disappointingly this is James Duckworth’s second straight Australian Open second round loss, losing to Tipsarevic in a tough four sets this time last year.
Tragically the loss leaves Tomic as the only Australian left in the draw and the prospect of no Australian making the second week if Bernie falls to Federer on Saturday.
Back in the changing room, and possible elements of fiction Blaz, between puffs on the oxygen mask he might have repeated “Ain’t gonna be no rematch.”
Blaz faces Jo-Wilfried “Muhammad Ali” Tsonga in the next round.