Brit Watch: Jack Draper and Dan Evans win in Antwerp
Britain’s World No 48 Jack Draper made an impressive return from a hamstring injury as he eased to a comfortable victory over American Jenson Brooksby at the European Open in Antwerp.
The 20-year-old Draper has not played since the US Open last month but came through his first-round match 6-1 6-2 and will face top seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland next.
Draper was happy with his performance in Belgium after his run in the Grand Slam event in New York was cut short.
He added: “It went really well. Jenson is unbelievably awkward- he competes really hard and wins a lot of matches.
“I’m a bit rusty. I knew it would be tough and there would be moments when I’d be really tired and, if you come through that, you feel stronger. Hopefully I can move forward from that.
“On my service games I was hitting my spots really well,” Draper said in his on-court interview.
“I wasn’t missing many returns as well. Jenson is someone who competes really well, so I felt that it was important to get on the front foot and not let him play his game because he is so awkward. I am glad with the way I played.”
With the victory in Antwerp, Draper has consolidated his fifth-placed position in the ATP Race To Milan.
Draper has currently bagged 945 points and is 43 points ahead of sixth-placed American Brandon Nakashima.
The exciting prospect is aiming to make his debut at the NextGen event, to be held at the Allianz Cloud Arena in Milan from 8-12 November.
Italian Lorenzo Musetti and Dane Holger Rune have already qualified for the season-ending tournament.
Carlos Alcaraz also qualified but will not compete as he has also reached the ATP Tour’s senior finals in Turin
Earlier this season, Draper captured four ATP Challenger Tour titles in a terrific sequence that gave him the confidence to compete on tout, before he reached his first tour-level semi-final in Eastbourne.
Draper upset Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the quarter-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Montreal, and defeated top ten player Felix Auger-Aliassime at the US Open. Monday’s match against Brooksby was Draper’s first match since the seasons final major.
Fellow Briton Dan Evans, 32, is also through to round two after beating Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 6-3 6-4.
The British number two, ranked 26th in the world, will take on either France’s Constant Lestienne or qualifier Jesper de Jong of the Netherlands.
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