Draper Used To Watch Murray At Queen’s Club; Now The 19 Y.O. Is Shining
What a week it’s been for Jack Draper.
Playing in just his second ATP Tour main draw, the 19-year-old wild card made a splash in his 7-6(6), 7-6(2) stunner over #NextGenATP Jannik Sinner to claim his first tour-level win at the cinch Championships. But he didn’t stop there, taking down Alexander Bublik in similar fashion, clinching a 7-6(5), 7-6(0) win to reach the quarter-finals.
In both matches, the Brit showed his mental fortitude to deny his opponents set points. Against Sinner, he saved two to deny the Italian the first set after trailing 4/6 in the tie-break. Against Bublik. Draper trailed by 5-6, 40/Ad in the second set as the Kazakh threatened to take them the distance – but he recovered emphatically to reel off seven points in a row and book a place into the last eight.
“I wouldn’t say nerves, but it was a bit of a come-down mentally because I had worked so hard to get the break of serve," Draper said of his second-set wobble against Bublik. “And then to not quite serve it out, giving the opportunity back and [being] back on equal terms in the second set was difficult. I was definitely feeling it in the second-set tie-break.
“Maybe Bublik helped me out a little bit toward the end of it, but I still put in three great points to start the tie-break. I’m glad that I was able to play it out today.”
That’s not all for Draper, who reached the final of the Wimbledon boys' singles event in 2018. The 19-year-old started his day with a win before he even hit the court at The Queen’s Club: he was among the five wild cards announced today by the All England Club, joining two-time champion Andy Murray and #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz.
It won’t just be the Brit’s Wimbledon debut, it will also be his first Grand Slam main draw at the senior level.
“I’m very grateful… It’s one of the biggest tournaments in the world,&rdquo. Draper said. “To be a Brit playing there is always special. Same as this week, I’m very proud to be in the draws and I just hope that I can show the same level as I’ve shown here. It will be my first time competing at five sets also, so it will be a big challenge for me.”
Currently No. 309 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Draper will be poised for a sharp rise as he continues to tick off ‘firsts’ in London. He will next face countryman Cameron Norrie for a spot in the semi-finals.
Draper remembers tuning into the tennis action at the cinch Championships as a promising junior, and watching his heroes on the lawns of Queen’s Club.
Now, he’s determined to keep making a name for himself at the same venue.
“When I was younger, I used to come here and watch [Andy] Murray. I remember I’ve got a photo on my phone with the trophy – I remember, it’s quite a big trophy. It was almost bigger than me when I was eight years old,” he joked.
“But definitely, I used to watch this tournament and get very inspired by the top Brits who were playing here and all the other great players. To be in the quarter-finals at such a prestigious event like Queen’s is a very big achievement for myself.”
Editor's Note: This article has been adjusted to reflect that Draper reached the Wimbledon boys' singles final in 2018. He did not win the title.