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“I’ve known my tennis ability has been good for a long time now” – Brit Jack Draper growing in confidence on the Grand Slam stage

In just his third Grand Slam main draw, Great Britain’s Jack Draper strutting his stuff and looking like a future star of the sport

Jack Draper at the 2022 National Bank Open in Montreal Jack Draper at the 2022 National Bank Open in Montreal Image Credit: AI/ Reuters/ Panoramic

On Wednesday, before his second-round showdown with sixth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jack Draper ripped groundstrokes and sauntered around the practice courts outside of Arthur Ashe Stadium like a player who had been competing on the Grand Slam stage for a decade.

Tall, powerful and filling out physically, the southpaw from Sutton, England, cuts an imposing figure at 6’4″ – and strikes a menacing ball to boot.

Rising, and fast

Draper is enjoying his first full year on the ATP Tour, and looking like a future top-10 player as he continues to surge up the rankings.

The 20-year-old has climbed 206 spots from No. 259 last year to a career-high No. 53 this week. He is projected to break the Top 50 on the Monday after the US Open, and could go much higher if he can get past Russia’s Karen Khachanov in third-round action.

In possession of menacing ground strokes, the ball just flies ornery off of Draper’s racquet. He cracked 29 winners against 17 unforced errors against Auger-Aliassime, who was a semi-finalist last year in New York. That kind of performance in a third Grand Slam main draw is rare, and it could mean that Draper is destined for big things in the sport.

Most important, Draper himself believes it. Now that he’s comfortable in his body, and confident in his fitness, it could be time for him to blossom.

“I’ve known my tennis ability has been good for a long time now,” he said. “I’ve obviously had the privilege to hit with Andy, Cam, Dan at the [National Training Centre]. They’re top players in their own right. I know I could hold my own a while back with them.

“It’s more been about how am I going to cope mentally and physically at this level and do it consistently. That’s what top-tier tennis is all about, being able to be there every single point, compete with these guys. I think I’ve known that my tennis is there, it’s just about the process of how I’m going to cope physically and mentally.”

The next British No 1?

Draper, who began 2022 with two ATP wins to his name, has earned 15 in eight months. It feels like he could be a steady force on tour for many years to come.

He’s way ahead of schedule, and the deeper he goes in New York, the higher he will rise in the rankings and therefore be able to qualify for more ATP tournaments in the future. Get used to the young Brit wreaking havoc ATP draws, in other words.

“My target at the start of the year was two things: stay injury-free and try to break the top hundred,” he said. “Obviously I’m going to be top 50. I’m obviously very proud of myself. It’s a nice thing for all my hard work that I’ve put in on a daily basis with the people that care about me and support me.

“Hopefully onwards and upwards from here.”

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