Horrible twist hits Jack Draper and denies him a chance to make a huge rankings leap

Kevin Palmer
Jack Draper pulled out in Mexico due to sickness
Jack Draper pulled out in Mexico due to sickness

Jack Draper suffered an agonising end to his hopes of making it through to his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco.

Draper was competing strongly with world No 9 Alex De Minaur in a high-quality semi-final contest, yet it became evident at the back end of the second set that the rising British star was not feeling well.

The Australian started strongly, taking the opener 6-3 and capitalising on four of six break points – the first set Draper had dropped in the tournament, but the 22-year-old staged a valiant comeback, winning the second set 6-2 with some powerful returns.

His illness became an issue towards the end of the second set with the 22-year-old receiving treatment from the physiotherapist and tournament doctor.

Things only got worse in the third set as the Australian won four consecutive games before Draper retired from the match.

He later wrote on Instagram: “I hate to pull out but I was feeling really unwell today. Congrats to @alexdeminaur and good luck for the final!”

De Minaur said after the match that he wishes Draper a “speedy recovery”.

“He’s a hell of a player, a hell of a talent and I hope it’s nothing too serious,” he said.

“I think those are the types of situations which are the hardest to control as a player because you’re stuck in two minds.

“One mind is, alright, you can see your opponent hurting. So let’s just try and put the ball in the court and make him just miss.

“What you really have to do is play the same style of tennis that you were that got you to that stage. So it’s extremely hard to focus in those situations, and often these are the matches that can complicate themselves.

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“Even though I dropped that second set, I knew he was hurting from then and I just told myself to bring up the intensity, try and get a head start in the third set and make it a little bit harder for him.

“But honestly, I wish him a speedy recovery. He’s a hell of a player, a hell of a talent and I hope it’s nothing too serious.”

This was a cruel blow for Draper, who has produced some impressive performances in Acapulco and will move up to a career-high ranking of No 37 when the updated ATP list is released on Monday.

He now has Cameron Norrie in his sights as he looks to overhaul the world No 29 and become British No 1 for the first time, with his rankings goals set much higher by the end of this year.

Draper would have made a leap into the world’s top 30, but he needs to hope he can recover in time to play his first round match at the ATP 1000 event at Indian Wells on Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

“I have spoken about rankings goals with my coach and if I can stay injury-free and stay on the trajectory I have been on since last summer, there is no reason why I can’t be ranked in the top 20 by the end of this year,” said Draper.

“That’s my goal, that’s where I want to be. I know I can go a lot further than that, but one step at a time and that’s a good goal for me.”

De Minaur will play Norwegian Casper Ruud in the final after he defeated Denmark’s Holger Rune 3-6 6-3 6-4.