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Draper Builds 'Strength Of Character' In Challenging 2023 Season

The Briton is in action this week at the Orleans Challenger
September 29, 2023
Jack Draper is seeded eighth at this week's Orleans Challenger.
Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Jack Draper is seeded eighth at this week's Orleans Challenger. By ATP Staff

Jack Draper hit a career-high No. 38 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in January following a semi-final run at the Adelaide International 2. The 21-year-old was poised to continue his rapid rise in 2023. Injuries soon struck the Briton and have been an unfortunate theme this season for last year's Next Gen ATP Finals semi-finalist.

Draper reached the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open before an abdominal injury forced him to retire against Carlos Alcaraz. A shoulder injury suffered at Roland Garros forced him to miss three months of action, in which he was unable to compete at his home Slam, Wimbledon.

Despite the time away from the Tour, Draper stayed positive and used it as a teaching moment.

“With this year, having so many injuries and having to come back from them, it definitely builds a lot of strength of character,” Draper told the ATP Challenger Tour media team this week in Orleans. “I knew I just had to get myself in a good place physically and mentally to be at the top of my game.

“I feel like this year, although it’s been really difficult, dropping out of the Top 100 and all these things, I’ve learned so much and I’m a much better player now than I was nine, 10 months ago. I’m proud of myself, but it’s definitely been difficult.”

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Draper has especially leaned on the support of his team and family in the midst of this season's obstacles.

“The thing with being a tennis player is it’s an individual sport, it’s lonely and stuff, that’s where having amazing people around you, who are always looking out for you, always there for you is so important,” Draper said.

“My coach, James Trotman, I’ve been with him for two years now and we have an incredibly close relationship. Obviously we are working towards a goal, we are very professional and stuff. But it’s definitely a weird dynamic, I spend more time with him than with my mum and my dog. It’s quite funny. Without them, I am no one.”

When Draper returned to action in August, he quickly found a high level. The lefty reached the fourth round of a major for the first time at the US Open and then made his Davis Cup debut, defeating Thanasi Kokkinakis en route to Great Britain’s 2-1 victory over Australia.

Draper briefly exited the Top 100 for six weeks, but after earning 180 points at Flushing Meadows and this week’s deep run at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Orleans, France, he has climbed 10 spots to World No. 96 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

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After the injury layoff in the first half of the season, Draper is hoping to flip the script by finishing the year strong and build upon his momentum in 2024.

“Next year, [the goal is] to carry on where I’ve left off at the end of this year. The main thing for me is always to just keep developing physically,” Draper said. “My goal is not to be a Top 100 or a Top 50 player. My goal is to be one of the best in the world.

“There’s many things that need to fall into place for that, but I think if I keep competing and keep working hard day in and day out and doing all the things I need to do physically and mentally to be at the top of the game, there’s no reason why I don’t have the game and the ability to go all the way in this sport.”

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