“Of course, it’s not easy to come back after a lot of months especially against a player playing super aggressive every shot,” Nadal said. “He went on court with determination not to hit more than two balls in a row from the baseline, it was tough.”
“My serve worked well. I don't know my percentage, but there were a lot of good positions after the first serve.
“I felt solid with the second [serve]. And in general terms I am happy about the victory of today against, as I said before, a very difficult opponent to play.”
Duckworth would have been forgiven for thinking his luck was out having drawn big names Andy Murray, Alexander Zverev and Marin Cilic in the first round of his past three majors.
His game plan was clear from the outset – he would not be pushed around. But his errors were flowing too quick, too soon early on and he surrendered his opening service game on a double fault.
MORE: AO2019 men’s singles results
It had been a brutal two years for the Australian before winning December’s Australian Open Wildcard Playoff. He had three surgeries in 2017 and last year, underwent foot and right elbow surgeries after the Australian Open.
The 26-year-old, now ranked 237th, mixed it up throughout the first set and clocked his 13th winner of the set to save a set point but struggled to keep his error count in check as Nadal wrapped up the first set with just one unforced error to his name.
Duckworth took command early in the second set, pumping the crowd up with a break of serve for 2-0.