“I’m a much better player now”: Draper looking to finish strong after injury-riddled year

Despite another year hampered by injuries, Jack Draper believes he’s a better player now than he was in January

Jack Draper 2023

Competing at a Challenger event in September is likely not where Jack Draper hoped his year would end up, after reaching a career high ranking of No 38 in the world in his first month of the season.

However, a myriad of injury issues have again waylaid the talented Brit, seeing his ranking plummet outside the world’s top 100 briefly, despite some moments of brilliance.

The 21-year-old has said that he is determined to use his persistent injury challenges as a means of building character, rather than allowing himself to get discouraged.

Draper believes he’s a better player now, thanks to injuries

Speaking to the media at the Co’met Orleans Open Challenger event this week, Jack Draper explained how his injury struggles have led to significant personal growth early in his career.

“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,” said Draper.

“I’m proud of myself, but it’s definitely been difficult. With this year, having so many injuries and having to come back from them, it definitely builds a lot of strength of character.

“I knew I just had to get myself in a good place physically and mentally to be at the top of my game.”

When Draper has been healthy, he’s shown himself to be capable of a high level of tennis—making the round of 16 at the US Open and Indian Wells, plus the semi-finals at Adelaide 2. The trouble is, he’s spent far too much time on the sidelines in between these runs.

Amidst these struggles with injuries, Draper has stressed how important it is to have a tight support network around him.

“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,” the Brit said.

Sights set high for 21-year-old in 2024

With the flashes of brilliance he’s shown across his career so far, it’s no surprise that Jack Draper isn’t simply aiming to become a staple in the world’s top 100.

“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,” the NextGen ATP Finals semi-finalist said.

“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.”

For now, Draper plans to simply focus on continuing his physical development to prevent any further injuries, and finish the year as strong as possible, so he can start fast in 2024.

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