James Duckworth reveals fiancee's cheeky text after $176,000 win

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
James Duckworth is pictured with his fiancee Madison.
James Duckworth says his fiancee Madison was thrilled with his first round victory over Chris O'Connell at the US Open. Picture: Instagram

Australian tennis star James Duckworth was able to breathe a sigh of relief after his first round victory over fellow Aussie Chris O'Connell at the US Open.

Not just because he made it through to the next round for just the second time in seven attempts.

POWERHOUSE: Rafa Nadal's brutal response after Aussie stunner shocks US Open

'VERY SAD': Novak Djokovic's shock announcement during US Open

Duckworth's four-set victory over O'Connell (4-6 7-6 (7-0) 6-2 6-3) represented a major step forward for the 30-year-old after 10 rounds of foot, elbow, shoulder and hip surgery in recent years.

Along with pocketing at least a handy $US121,000 ($A168,000) for making the second round, Duckworth is also set for a long-awaited provisional rankings boost.

An expected climb of 12 places up to the world No.71 will place Duckworth back within the range for automatic entry to grand slams, a long awaited milestone after years of having to grind through qualifiers and countless dollars spent trying to get his body right.

The only person who might have been more pleased about Duckworth's win other than the man himself was his fiancee Madison, who sent the big serving star a cheeky congratulatory message.

"Yeah, it's a nice bonus," Duckworth said of the payday and potential rankings boost.

"My fiancee text me after the match and said 'well done, you've paid for the wedding'.

"Because of my body I've been looking to get as much physio help as possible so (the money) will go towards that.

"And I suppose my fiancee will try and steal some and put it towards the wedding."

An upset win over British hopeful Dan Evans, who is ranked 60 places higher at No.23 in the world, would ensure Duckworth leaves the Big Apple with a minimum of $US188,000 ($A$275,000).

But it's the thrill of the chase that satisfies Duckworth most.

"I play the game to win," he said.

"I love competing and I really enjoy the aspect of just trying to get better, trying to improve my game.

"(Coach) Wayne (Arthurs) and I are constantly going back and forth about different things. The little one-percenters. That gives me a lot of enjoyment as well. Just improving."

Rafael Nadal denies Aussie underdog in thriller

Australian wildcard Rinky Hijikata threatened the grand slam upset of the year before falling to Rafael Nadal in a daring and dazzling US Open debut.

Hijikata lit up Arthur Ashe Stadium with some electrifying tennis, snatching the opening set, before Nadal pulled out all stops in a pulsating 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-3 comeback victory on Tuesday night.

Now unbeaten in 19 grand slam outings in 2022, Nadal entered the tournament under a fitness cloud after withdrawing from his scheduled Wimbledon semi-final with Nick Kyrgios with an abdominal tear.

The reigning Australian and French Open champion had lost his only match since, to Borna Coric in Cincinnati in three sets two weeks ago.

The 22-times grand slam champion again looked vulnerable after Hijikata - ranked No.198 in the world and only in the draw after being handed a wildcard under Tennis Australia's reciprocal arrangement with the USTA - captured the first set with some inspired first-strike, attacking tennis.

Rinky Hijikata and Rafael Nadal shake hands at the net after their first round US Open match.
Australian rising star Rinky Hijikata gave Rafael Nadal a run for his money in the first round of the US Open. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

New Yorkers are famous for loving an underdog and the 22-year-old duly whipped the centre-court crowd into a frenzy when he clubbed an airborne forehand winner down the line to bring up set point, then fist-pumped and waved his arms in triumph after sealing the set with a huge ace down the middle.

It was the first time in Nadal's record-breaking career that he'd lost his opening set at a US Open.

Alas, Australia's grand slam rookie quickly learned not to prematurely celebrate against arguably the most ferocious competitor men's tennis has ever seen.

After hitting back swiftly to take the second and third sets, Nadal resisted a fierce fightback from Hijikata in the fourth to eventually clinch victory, to great relief, on his fifth match point after three hours and eight minutes of enthralling action.

The two combatants received a standing ovation after the classic encounter.

With AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.