Jack Draper pinpoints next steps as Queen’s campaign comes to tough end

jack draper pinpoints next steps as queen’s campaign comes to tough end

Jack Draper playing a shot

Sport is rarely a place for fairytales or sentimentality.

If it was, Jack Draper may have stormed to victory at the Queen’s Club this week, backing up a career-best win by claiming back-to-back ATP titles and cementing his spot as a grass-court force.

However, the 22-year-old will now take time to rest and reflect after a tough quarter-final loss to Tommy Paul – though huge strides have still undoubtedly been taken over the past nine days.

After shocking Carlos Alcaraz, barely 24 hours had passed when Draper, now even more expectation sitting on his broad shoulders, returned to court for his quarter-final.

Off the back of the biggest win of his career, and against an opponent he had a healthy 3-1 head-to-head lead over, the 22-year-old was arguably the favourite to reach the semi-final – but the early signs were not promising.

Draper looked a shadow of the play that had sensationally knocked out the world No 2 on Thursday, dropping serve twice on his way to losing the opening set.

Not one to go down without a fight, the world No 31 mustered all he could to force a decider versus the world No 13, though Paul righted the ship in the decider to seal a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 triumph.

With his young career often afflicted by tough losses and even tougher injury setbacks, playing such a dense cluster of matches was always going to be a test.

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And it was evident that the emotional and physical energy of the past week  had caught up.

“I felt like I was having to really get myself going today, just maybe because the last couple of weeks catching up with me a little bit,” he conceded.

“Physically, I felt good. My body’s been great. It just becomes mentally quite taxing, having to go day after day. I finished Stuttgart on Sunday, and I got here very, very late on Sunday.

“Then training and then winning again on Tuesday. Obviously, the match yesterday, it felt like there was quite a lot of energy and emotion invested in that.

“I was definitely having to pick myself up. I felt quite flat at times. I think that kind of showed in my decision-making at certain times in the match. I played a few more sloppy shots than I wanted to.”

A landmark fortnight for Draper will see him in all likelihood crack the top 30 for the first time, and has guaranteed a seeding at Wimbledon – which starts in just ten days.

It will be the first time that the Brit has ever been seeded at a Grand Slam, but for someone with Draper’s ambition, being a mere top 30 player is never going to be the long-term ambition.

“At the end of the day, if I want to be one of the best players in the world, then I have to keep on backing up my performances and get used to going deep every week. That’s what I want to get to, and that’s kind of what I was disappointed about today.

“I think if you want to be a top, top player in the world, you have to back up results week by week, day by day. You know you’re in a great place and you’re one of the best players in the world when you’re able to do that, because every day we’re facing amazing tennis players who can beat you.

“That’s kind of the next stage for me now. I want to try and go deep in tournaments and back it up every week. My body is in a good place. These are just things I have to probably get used to at the highest level and learn.

“I’m still young. I’m trying to piece a lot of things together. That was my first title last week, so, you know, I have done it at Challenger level and futures, but it’s very different on the main tour.

“I just need probably a bit more time.”

After a busy week or two, Draper has pulled out of the Eastbourne International, and will now rest up before Wimbledon.

With Andy Murray an injury doubt and only one other British player – WTA star Katie Boulter – seeded in either singles draw, Draper will undoubtedly be one of the faces of the Championships.

All eyes will be on whether he can use the confidence gained so far from this grass season, take the learning from this match, and turn all that into another impressive run.

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