Jack Draper: The rise of bright tennis prospect to new British No 1 and Wimbledon contender | Tennis News

Jack Draper is Britain’s new No 1 after rising above Cameron Norrie in the rankings, but who is the 22-year-old bright tennis prospect from Sutton and can he win Wimbledon?

Having missed the entire grass-court swing last year because of injury, Draper’s preparations for this year’s Wimbledon saw him pick up his first ATP Tour title by beating Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in the Stuttgart Open final on Sunday.

The youngster, who has been on an upwards trajectory in recent years, edged ahead of Norrie for the British No 1 ranking and continued his remarkable form by claiming the biggest victory of his career after beating top seed Carlos Alcaraz at Queen’s Club.

Jack Draper in short

Nickname: JD and Drapes

Place of birth: Sutton

Lives: London

Trains: NTC/Wimbledon

Favourite tournament: Wimbledon

Family: Father Roger was a talented amateur tennis player and Chief Executive of the LTA from 2006 to 2013

Mother Nicky is a former British junior champion and introduced Jack to tennis

Brother Ben played college tennis at University of California-Berkeley and now pursues a Master’s degree at Wake Forest

Supports Manchester United

Favourite athlete is MMA star Conor McGregor

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Draper said he knew his time was coming after winning his first ATP title and becoming British No 1

Where it all began

Draper started playing at his local Sutton Tennis & Squash club, competing with his brother under the tutelage of mother and tennis coach, Nicky.

As a coach at the club, his mother brought Jack along to his first training session at the age of six.

Draper peaked at No 7 in the ITF junior world rankings, aided by his runner-up finish at the 2018 Wimbledon boys’ singles event.

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Speaking at the Madrid Open Draper feels he is ‘not at the level’ he wants to be at yet

Draper’s rise

The left-hander is one of the brightest prospects in British tennis – as reflected in his 223-place rise up the ATP rankings in 2022, which saw him end the year ranked inside the top 50.

Draper burst onto the scene with impressive victories over Jannik Sinner and Alexander Bublik at Queen’s Club in 2021 and became the youngest Brit to win three ATP Challenger titles in two months, the first Brit to qualify for the Next Gen Finals and backed those achievements up with strong performances at Eastbourne, the Canada Masters and US Open.

He introduced himself to the mainstream when he took a set off Novak Djokovic in the opening match of Wimbledon in 2022 as a 19-year-old.

22 years and 178 days

Jack Draper becomes the youngest British No 1 since Andy Murray was his same age on November 9, 2009

Draper reached two ATP Tour finals prior to his success in Stuttgart on Sunday. He lost a close encounter to Adrian Mannarino in Sofia in November 2023 and then made the final again in Adelaide at the start of 2024, losing out to Jiri Lehecka in three sets.

Before that, Draper’s previous best was reaching his first ATP Tour semi-final at Eastbourne in 2022 as a wildcard.

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Draper explains how he’s had to get used to the demands of the tour

Who is Draper coached by?

Jack Draper of Great Britain and coach James Trotman with the trophy after winning the Final match against Holger 'The Viking' Rune of Denmark during Day Three of the UTS Grand Final London at ExCel London on December 17, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for UTS)
Draper is coached by James Trotman

LTA National Coach James Trotman at the National Tennis Centre, although he recently trialled a potential second coach when hiring Wayne Ferreira in an effort to jump-start his career.

Trotman is a former player himself, winning the 1995 Wimbledon Championships boys doubles with Martin Lee and the 1997 Australian Open boys doubles with David Sherwood.

Draper at the 2023 US Open

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Highlights of Draper’s second round match against Hubert Hurkacz at the US Open

After missing Wimbledon due to injuries, Draper returned to the tour with a strong showing at the US Open.

The Brit defeated Radu Albot, Hubert Hurkacz and American Michael Mmoh to reach the fourth round at Flushing Meadows – his best performance at a Grand Slam event so far.

Draper’s motivation

“I just love winning. To be honest, I love to put in the work and then gain the rewards from it. I know it’s not always like that, but at the same time I enjoy how tough it is. I love competing and I enjoy training and getting better.”

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Draper feels his serve is his biggest weapon

Injuries and illness

Jack Draper of Britain reacts after defeating Marcos Giron of the U.S. in their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Draper won a gruelling five-set match against American Marcos Giron at the Australian Open, then immediately raced to a courtside bin to throw up

Draper’s progress has stalled amid numerous physical issues but after working on his fitness and losing 3kg, he now seeks psychological assistance to help with anxiety which hinders his physical performance.

“I always felt like the physical issues, like a lot of that has been for me mental as well, sort of dealing with stress, dealing with my emotions,” said Draper.

“Obviously as I’m getting physically better, I can maybe cope with it a little bit better, but it’s definitely an area that is really important as well.

“I’ve never really felt like a lot of tension in my tennis. That’s not the issue. It’s like… when you do have that anxiety when you are playing, obviously there’s a lot going on. It’s hot. There’s sort of no way out from the court. You have to really suffer to win the points, and you’ve got to work hard.

“Every player feels it, and every player has different kind of ways they struggle with it, whether it’s someone getting really tight on their forehand, and they can’t hit a forehand. It might be their movement starts to go a little bit.

“For me, it feels like my breathing starts to really struggle, and I can’t get the oxygen in me. That’s obviously a difficult point when you are playing. You are not only playing the guy, you are almost competing against yourself because you’re not obviously feeling 100 per cent.”

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Annabel Croft revealed that Draper is a natural right hander but plays with his left, like Rafael Nadal, which means the backhand is played like a second forehand

Ready to lean on his idol

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Draper explains the impact that Andy Murray has had on his career, describing him as an inspiration

Draper has said he is ready to “lean on” Andy Murray a lot after the Scot calls time on his career.

Murray is in the final throes of an outstanding career, having confirmed earlier this year that he is unlikely to play beyond the summer.

“It is going to be much easier to tap into him when he has finished,” Draper said.

“As a tennis player you don’t have time to think of anything but yourself. You are always thinking about what you can do better.

“When he has stopped I will be contacting him a lot more, asking him for opinions on certain things, asking him what he has tried and if it has worked for him.

“I am definitely going to lean on Andy a lot and I am sure he will want to help me because he has always been very supportive of me.”

Wimbledon darkhorse?

Draper has shown he has the talent to challenge at the top of the game and is position to be seeded for Wimbledon where hopes will be high.

The youngster admits he feels a responsibility to take the baton.

“I want to achieve so much in the sport – it is not all about winning, it is about inspiring kids to play and making people pick up a racket and knowing that tennis isn’t all just about playing on Centre Court Wimbledon,” said Draper.

“It can be amazing for so many people in different ways.”

What’s coming up on Sky Sports Tennis?

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