Jack Draper

Jack Draper: Who is the rising star of British tennis?

Jack Draper will hear opportunity knocking when he represents Great Britain at the Davis Cup Finals this week, but how much do you know about the rising star of British tennis?

Although still forging his own path, like the household names of British tennis, Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu, Draper’s path to success has been anything but straightforward.

With injuries to Murray and Dan Evans, Draper is set for a key role for Great Britain at the Davis Cup Finals, so let’s take a look at his journey in tennis so far.

Jack Draper’s breakthrough

There wasn’t exactly a shortage in opportunity for the young Brit, who was raised into a keen tennis family in South London.

2018 marked the turning point in his career: an impressive run to a runner-up trophy in the boys singles event at Wimbledon pushed him to no.7 in the junior rankings before he set his sights on the pro-level tour.

The early stages were marred through injury as Draper battled through hip and finger issues. However, an impressive run of tournaments in the summer of 2019, when he won three ITF titles from four finals, signalled he had come through the worst of those injury woes.

During a pandemic-riddled 2020 season, he was able to win another $25k title and progress further on the Challenger tour.

Post-pandemic progress

Despite his strong frame and punishing groundstrokes, the lefty was unable to make inroads on the Challenger tour at the beginning of his 2021 campaign.

He was, however, starting to make a name for himself in the tennis world, and that led to him receiving a wild card to make his ATP Tour debut at the Miami Masters. Unfortunately, the heat proved too much for Draper, who collapsed at the end of a gruelling first set in his first round clash with Mikhail Kukushkin and was forced to retire.

The Brit bounced back in the summer when he made a statement run to the quarterfinal of his home ATP tournament, Queen’s, beating Jannik Sinner and Alexander Bublik over the course of four tiebreaks before falling to compatriot Cam Norrie.

A date with Djokovic

His Queen’s breakthrough helped him towards a wildcard into the main draw of Wimbledon just two weeks later, where he would take to Centre Court against defending champion Novak Djokovic in the first round.

After taking the first set in impressive fashion, Draper’s level dropped and Djokovic swept through the following three to get his title defence underway. He had certainly made an impression, though.

“To win a set against [Novak] Djokovic on my Wimbledon debut is something I won’t forget and hopefully in years to come I can improve on that”, Draper said as he took the positives from the match.

That unforgettable British summer instilled the belief in young Draper that he belonged on the big stages, but it has been his maturity that has seen him reach the heights of the sport.

Jack Draper: Champion of the Challenger tour

Following his meteoric rise over the first half of the 2021 season, which saw him jump to 250 in the world rankings, Draper settled into life on the Challenger tour to finish the year.

The Surrey-based star has always emphasised the importance of the off season, and his training over the festive period clearly paid off as he raced out of the blocks in a rampant start to 2022.

Success on the Challenger Tour had eluded Draper in the past, but he was able to right those wrongs by clinching four titles in his opening seven tournaments of the year.

He was then able to put a string of impressive wins together over the grass court swing to make the semi-finals in Eastbourne before defeating Zizou Bergs at the All England Club to record a maiden Wimbledon win.

READ NEXT: Davis Cup Finals 2023 Preview: A guide to the ‘Final 8’

Top 100

With Draper now inside the world’s top 100, his dazzling run of form showed no signs of stopping and was keen to set a marker for himself on the ATP tour.

Over the course of the North American hard court swing, Draper beat world number five Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach his maiden Masters 1000 quarterfinal in Montreal, as well as number eight Felix Auger-Aliassime to make the third round of the US Open.

He signed off an exceptional year by becoming the first British player to qualify for the Next Gen Finals in Milan. Despite falling short in the semi final, his breakthrough was recognised at the ATP awards where he claimed the ‘Newcomer of the Year’ and ‘Most Improved Player of the Year’.

2023: Jack Draper here to stay

Jack Draper started the 2023 season at a career high of number 38 in the rankings, and rightly so after an incredible breakthrough season.

Now playing at a consistently high level, Draper was breezing through the early stages of tournaments and was seemingly unfazed by the big names of the sport.

Unfortunately, a shoulder injury saw him miss the summer’s grass swing and drift just outside of the top 100 once again. However, since his return it has been nothing but forward strides for the young star, who continues to thrive on the ATP tour.

Draper’s destiny

It is no surprise that his favoured surface is hard court as all of his biggest achievements have come on this surface, and the 2023 US Open was no different.

Draper soared to new Grand Slam heights by reaching the fourth round in New York, and was able to back it up further when he defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis on his Davis Cup debut in the qualifiers to help Great Britain beat Australia.

Davis Cup Finals in Malaga

Draper was part of Leon Smith’s squad for the Davis Cup group stage in Manchester and did his part to help GB over the line. Since then, Andy Murray and Dan Evans have both pulled out of the upcoming quarterfinal match – against Djokovic’s Serbia – due to injury.

This leaves Draper cemented as the number two singles player, behind Norrie, and likely to take on Laslo Djere in the first rubber.

You can watch all of the action unfold on the BBC Sport website, app and BBC iPlayer.

READ NEXT: Novak Djokovic ‘excited’ to chase Davis Cup glory with Serbia

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Jerome Coombe, Tennishead Writer, discovered his love for tennis journalism whilst studying languages and playing competitive tennis. He has a vast knowledge of tennis and strives to shed a light on all corners of the sport.