2012 US Open champion and former world #1 Andy Murray will begin his 13th US Open campaign against Australia’s James Duckworth. It will be the first time that Murray has taken to the court at a Grand Slam in over a year after a serious hip injury which required surgery in January. More than one player has seen their careers ended by such an injury, but Murray will hope to dispel such fears with a good run in New York. But will those hopes be derailed by Duckworth?
Murray and Duckworth have never met competitively before. Murray holds a considerable advantage in terms of experience, however. He is a three-time Grand Slam champion, having lifted two Wimbledon titles in addition to the one he won in New York six years ago. He also has a career record of 659-187 and has won 45 titles. Duckworth’s numbers pale in comparison. He has a record of 21-42 and has never won a title at Tour-level.
Last time out
Murray made his return after nearly a year out at Queen’s, losing in the first round to Nick Kyrgios. He then beat Wawrinka in Eastbourne, before losing to Kyle Edmund and withdrawing from Wimbledon. He begun his hard court season with three battling wins in Washington, which included revenge on Edmund, before withdrawing from his quarterfinal clash with Alex De Minaur and from the Canadian Open. He did compete in Ohio, but lost first round to Lucas Pouille 1-6 6-1 4-6.
Duckworth, who has plenty of experience with injuries himself, played his first main draw of the year in Paris but lost in the first round to Marin Cilic. He received another tough draw at Wimbledon where he lost first-time out to Alexander Zverev in straight sets. He also lost first round in Newport and Atlanta before joining Murray in Washington after qualifying into the main draw. He reached the second round but lost to Tsitsipas before failing to qualify in Winston-Salem.
How do they match up?
Murray climbed to the top of the game on the back of a commendable work ethic and excellent defensive skills. He covers the court like few others and many an opponent has ground to a halt in the face of Murray’s defence. But his movement since his return has looked sluggish in comparison with him at his dynamic best. It is an area of his game he will need to improve if he wants to return to the top echelons of the game.
His serve and forehand have also looked vulnerable. His second serve has always been a weakness and remains so, whilst he has dropped his forehand worryingly short worryingly often so far this summer. Those are weaknesses Duckworth will need to exploit. His strengths are his forehand and a powerful lefty-serve, though that will be tested by Murray’s returning skills, which are second only to the Djokovic’s.
Murray, who could face del Potro as early as the third round, does not look in position to launch a serious title-challenge at this year’s US Open. Though he may be recovered from his hip injury, his game is certainly not back to it’s best and that will leave him little chance against those at the top of the sport. But Duckworth, one of few men in the draw ranked lower than him, is in worse shape and has won just two matches this year. Murray will have enough to get by him in four.