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Aussie Duckworth beaten in first ATP final

·3-min read

Australian James Duckworth has suffered defeat in his maiden ATP Tour final in Nur-Sultan, losing in straight sets to South Korean Kwon Soon-woo in the Astana Open decider to end his breakthrough winning streak.

The 29-year-old Sydneysider, who had won nine straight matches while claiming a Challenger event in Istanbul last week and then charging through the draw in this week's Kazakhstan hardcourt tournament, went down 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 in Sunday's final.

But Duckworth will rue his missed opportunities on his big day.

He had held three set points in the opening set tiebreak, only to drop five points on the bounce, and he also earned an early break in the second before the 23-year-old Kwon hit back.

The Korean world No.82 broke Duckworth twice in the second set and though the doughty Aussie saved two match points, Kwon prevailed on the third after one hour 36 minutes to take his first ATP crown.

"Obviously I was up 6-3 in the tiebreaker and I somehow managed to lose that set. I probably lost my legs a little bit in the second set," Duckworth said.

"I was down a break early and then got broken straight back, and then had 0-30 in the next game," Duckworth said.

"My first serve percentage was at about 30 per cent in the second set and I think all the matches I have played in the last couple of weeks and the travel, I think it just took its toll a little bit.

"I lost a little bit of leg drive on my serve, which hurt me."

It marked a huge anti-climax for Duckworth, who after an 11-year career riddled with foot, elbow and shoulder injuries that required eight operations, was hoping to triumph at ATP level by claiming the Astana title that his friend John Millman had won last year.

"It is difficult right now. I am pretty shattered. I imagine in a couple of days' time I will look at it as a positive week but today was pretty tough," he said.

"All in all, I hadn't made it past the semi-finals before and I beat some real quality players from the start of the week and played some great tennis.

"I am sure it will be more positive in a couple of days than it is right now."

Still, his reward for two excellent weeks will be to shoot into the world's top 60 for the first time next week, jumping from his current ranking of 65 to 56.

But he missed his chance to leapfrog the 55th-ranked Millman as Australia's No.2 men's player, behind Alex de Minaur, who's been struggling of late and is due to drop to No.26 when the latest ATP standings are released on Monday.

This week, all of those three will be in action in the Sofia Open in Bulgaria.

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