Just a couple of years ago, James Duckworth was down and out. He had undergone no less than five surgeries in 2017, and his world ranking plummeted to outside the top-1,000.

After a long and arduous recovery, the Australian returned to the circuit with a bang. Duckworth claimed four Challenger titles in 2019 - the most for any player - to steadily climb up the rankings.

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On Sunday, Duckworth added another chapter to his miraculous story by winning the $1,62,000 Bengaluru Open ATP Tennis Challenger here. With a 6-4, 6-4 win over France’s Benjamin Bonzi in the final, Duckworth is all set to break into the top-80 and reach his career-high ranking.

Duckworth stuttered in the early stages of the encounter, losing his serve to go down 1-3 in the first set. The 28-year-old broke back to pull level, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Duckworth made quite a few unforced errors, which frustrated him no end. On one occasion, after hitting one long, an irate Duckworth took a ball from his pocket and smashed it out of the stadium. With the courts playing significantly slower at night, the players were unable to get free points on their serves.

Duckworth did gather himself to keep his temper in check, playing the big points well to wrap up the win. The gritty Aussie picked up the winner’s cheque of $21,600 and 125 ATP ranking points.

“Having been through all the injuries layoffs, I have an added appreciation for reaching my career-high ranking. I draw from the tough experiences - it spurs me on,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth’s fine form has earned him a spot in the Australian Davis Cup squad to take on Brazil in two weeks time at Adelaide. “One of my biggest goals was to play in the Davis Cup. I’d rank this as the best achievement of my career. I’m excited to train with the boys. I also hope to take the step up and play more ATP Tour events,” Duckworth said.

For the unseeded Bonzi, this was no less than a dream campaign. Bonzi defeated four seeded players on the way to the summit clash, and his performance will help improve his ranking by more than 100 spots to take him into the 250s.