Draper Downs Simon For Dream Miami Win
The 20-year-old Brit, who has already won three titles on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2022, put his strong serve and powerful groundstrokes to good effect to wear down his resilient opponent and secure a 7-5, 6-1 victory.
The hot and humid conditions in Miami will make the win all the more pleasing for Draper, who was forced to retire against Mikhail Kukushkin on his debut at the tournament a year ago.
"[It feels] really good," said Draper after the match. "I played an okay match today. It was tough conditions. It wasn't the easiest, especially after what happened last year. It was in the back of my mind a little bit.
"I'm glad to come through the match. I think it shows the work I've put in the last six months, so I'm happy with the performance today."
After an early exchange of breaks, a poor service game from Simon at 5-5 presented Draper with the opportunity to clinch the opening set, the 20-year-old showing no signs of nerves as he served it out to love.
The second set was a more one-sided affair, Draper breaking three times to complete the win in one hour, 48 minutes. Whenever he was under pressure in the match, the Brit’s big serve guided him away from trouble. He saved six out of seven break points he faced and won 70 per cent (28/40) of points behind his first serve, according to Infosys ATP Stats.
The defeat leaves Simon still two victories short of 500 career-wins, while Draper’s bid to reach November’s Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals continues to gather momentum.
Next up for Draper is a familiar face, fellow Brit Cameron Norrie. It will be the pair’s second tour-level meeting, after Norrie ended Draper’s promising run at the 2021 Cinch Championships in London at the quarter-final stage.
"I've played a lot with Cam in the UK," said Draper. "He's one of the guys who has been great with me as a young Brit. I think he's always supporting, always sending me messages.
"[It's] nice I get to share the court with him on Friday. When I played him at Queen's last year, I'm a lot better player than that I think. Hopefully I can give him a run for his money on Friday."
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