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Spotlight: Jack Draper

  • Matt Trollope

Whether on the ATP Challenger circuit in early 2022, or at ATP level as the season unfolded, British rising star Jack Draper has excelled.

The 20-year-old has won 43 of 58 matches so far this year, victories boosting his ranking from 265th to a peak of No.46 in September.

It was a rise of almost 220 places in just eight months.

He said…

I just love winning. To be honest, I love to put in the work and then gain the rewards from it. I enjoy how tough it is and I live for the big moments.”

“My game is nowhere near, probably at 60 per cent of my capacity. I honestly believe that. I believe that I've got such a long way to go and a lot to improve, so I think I'm ready to do it, but it's just going to take time.”

On court

A top-10 junior four years ago, Draper burst onto the professional scene in 2021.

He beat top-40 players Jannik Sinner and Alexander Bublik to reach the Queen’s quarterfinals, then, in his Wimbledon Centre Court debut, took the first set off world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

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In the first three months of 2022 he went 23-3, dominating at ATP Challenger level and rising to the brink of the top 100, eventually cracking it early in the grass-court season.

Tour-level success became more frequent; after second rounds in Miami, Madrid and Queen’s, Draper reached the semifinals in Eastbourne, followed by quarterfinals at the Canada Masters and Winston-Salem.

There was also his first Grand Slam win at Wimbledon, plus a run to the third round at the US Open – albeit cut short by injury.

Jack Draper serves during his 6-4 6-4 6-4 second-round upset of world No.8 Felix Auger-Aliassime at the US Open. (Getty Images)

Along the way came wins against Felix Auger-Aliassime (in New York), Stefanos Tsitsipas (Montreal), Taylor Fritz (Queen’s) and Diego Schwartzman (Eastbourne).

As well as significant mental and physical gains, we could explain what makes Draper’s left-handed game so potent, but we’ll leave that to the man himself. 

“I like to play aggressively and on the front foot,” said Draper, who is 193cm tall. “I have a big serve, big forehand and solid backhand. I have weapons really.”

Notable stat

Draper is certainly not intimidated by more experienced or highly-fancied players, winning five of his past seven matches against top-20 opponents.


The word “swagger” has long been associated with Draper, right back to when he reached the Wimbledon junior final in 2018.

Crowds recognise it, impressed with his performances on some of the game’s biggest stages. “(Already) I've been able to play on some big courts… it's something weird, something I've never struggled with. I love it,” he explained. “I like to express myself and my tennis.”

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Longtime tennis commentator David Law has recognised it, noting Draper’s resemblance to Andy Roddick when the former No.1 was a similarly-confident young gun beginning to impact the tour 20 years earlier.

And his management group IMG have also recognised it, signing him up on a separate contract with IMG Models.

Off court

Draper dabbled in many sports – football, cricket, swimming – until his mid teens, but it was little surprise he eventually pursued tennis.

Mother Nicky, a former British junior champion and now coach, introduced him to the game as a child, while brother Ben played college tennis at University of California Berkeley. Father Roger was formerly chief executive of Britain's Lawn Tennis Association.

Given how embedded his family are within the sport, Draper could be completely consumed by tennis, but pursues other interests to give his mind a break from it.

He studies through Open University with a particular interest in criminology, and revealed in a wide-ranging interview with that two non-tennis items – a speaker, and jeans – are his travel essentials.

“There are so many athletes that wear a tracksuit all the time,” he observed. “When you're away from the court, it's important to have a little bit more about you than that. Casual clothes that you can go out with and just show that you're not all about the tennis.”

Experts are saying...

British stars Andy Murray and Cam Norrie have trained with Draper, giving them great insight on what makes their young countryman so promising.

Murray: “He doesn’t have huge weaknesses in his game. The two most important fundamental shots in the game he does well; he serves well, returns well. For a big guy, he moves pretty well also and then from the back of the court, his backhand is a very solid shot. When he’s got time he can finish points. He’s got a big forehand when he’s got time to load up on it and he’s a smart player as well and a good competitor. He’s got lots of things going for him.”

Norrie: “I think if he can play week in, week out he’s going to have a very, very good career and I’m sure he can get easily top 10 for me.”