Draper Downs Felix At Flushing Meadows
Draper's 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over the Canadian Wednesday night further strengthens his commanding lead in fifth spot in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan as he closes in on a debut appearance at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals from 8-12 November.
The result also deals a blow to 2021 US Open semi-finalist Auger-Aliassime's quest to make his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals. The 22-year-old is sixth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and had the opportunity to put distance between himself and rivals, including Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz, with a deep run at Flushing Meadows. Now he is at risk of seeing last year’s Turin qualifiers pass him in the Race this fortnight.
"Obviously Felix is an incredibly tough opponent, that's why he's at the top of the game,” Draper said. “I played a really good match today, a special occasion out here."
Despite making less than half of his first serves, the Briton’s heavy delivery troubled Felix when put in play; the Brit won 36/43 first-serve points. The 20-year-old displayed wide variety from the baseline, including two backhand passing shots to break Felix’s serve in the second and third sets. The Canadian No. 1 only saw three break points - all while Draper was serving for the opening set - but failed to convert. Felix also struggled to find consistency during extended rallies, finishing with 41 unforced errors.
The left-handed Draper, 9-2 in his past 11 matches, rises to No. 46 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, a vast improvement from 12 months ago, when the youngster was No. 272.
"I've put in a lot of hard work the last few years. I've been unfortunate with injuries at a young age, I grew very quickly. I always had the tennis abilities, it's been about staying fit and staying on court.”
Draper joins countrymen Cameron Norrie and Andy Murray in the third round at Flushing Meadows. Daniel Evans will attempt to become the fourth Briton in the third round when he meets Australian James Duckworth Thursday.