Jack Draper closes on stunning rankings breakthrough as he signs up for London showdown

Kevin Palmer
Jack Draper US Open
Jack Draper returns the ball

Great Britain’s Jack Draper is ending a troubled year on a major high – and he could just be ready to make a big rankings breakthrough.

Draper won an ATP Challenger title in Italy last week to leap the world rankings and now he is making good progress at his latest tournament.

After a year troubled by injury issues, Draper continued his recent surge in form as he swept past Cem Ilkel to reach the semi-finals of the Sofia Open.

Having knocked out tournament top seed Lorenzo Musetti in the last round, Draper never looked back after taking an early 3-0 lead over the Turkish wildcard in the opening set.

The world No 82 did not face a single break point as he went on to complete a comfortable 6-2 6-2 victory.

Draper, 21, goes on to play Jan-Lennard Struff, the German number three seed having earlier beaten Hungary’s Fabian Marozsan 7-6 (3) 4-6 6-4.

“I thought he was a really solid player. It was difficult in the rallies, but I was strong and my ball speed was good,” Draper said on court following his win over Ilkel.

“I was able to turn defence into attack today, so I am happy with the way I played.”

Draper’s match against Struff will be the first meeting between the pair on the ATP Tour.

“He is someone who has had an amazing season. He has won a lot of matches and plays really big games,” Draper said.

“It will be two big hitters playing and hopefully it will be a really good match.”

Draper is now eyeing up a return to the top 50 of the ATP rankings, with this latest win moving him up to a provisional No 65 in the ATP list.

Winning the Sofia tournament would see Draper move back into the top 50 and strengthen his claims to play for Great Britain in their Davis Cup quarter-final against Serbia later this month.

With Dan Evans out of that tie, Cameron Norrie and Andy Murray are set to be the two highest-ranked players available to captain Leon Smith.

Yet Norrie and Murray’s horrible form in recent weeks means Draper has to be a strong option to play in Malaga.


It has also been confirmed that Draper will play at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) Finals in London next month, after he was handed a wildcard for the event that will be staged at London ExCel Arena.

“Fireworks are guaranteed at the season-ending UTS Grand Final in London next month after rising Briton Jack Draper and Danish star Holger Rune – two of the biggest hitters on the men’s tennis Tour – were both awarded wildcards into the eight-man field,” read a statement from UTS tournament organisers.

“The pair will join Andrey “Rublo” Rublev, Casper “The Iceman” Ruud and Gael “La Monf” Monfils at the Grand Final, which takes place from December 15-17 at London’s ExCel.

“Conceived in 2020 by renowned coach and entrepreneur Patrick Mouratoglou, UTS is designed to be an innovative tennis tour, closer to the habits of connected audiences and breaking with the traditionally strict discipline imposed on players.”

Draper’s appearance at the London event will give him a chance to play in front of a home crowd once again, with his absence from most of this tennis year due to injury halting his efforts to build his with the UK audience.

If he arrives for his UTS appearance after a sparkling showing for Great Britain at the Davis Cup Finals, it could be quite a homecoming.

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