Stunning breakthrough for Jack Draper as he matches an Andy Murray record in Sofia
Jack Draper is closing in on the most significant title of his career after reaching the final of the Sofia Open.
The 21-year-old Brit became the youngest Briton to reach an ATP Tour final since Andy Murray in 2009 when he defeated third-seeded German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-4.
Draper has yet to drop a set all week in Sofia and is up to No. 61 in the live ATP rankings following his 19th tour-level win of the season, with a return to the top 50 on the cards if he can win the final on Saturday.
This run in Sofia is the culmination of hard work Draper has put in away from the spotlight, after a year when injuries have halted his ambitions.
“I think it’s been a really difficult year for me, to be honest,” he said at the US Open in August. “Last year when I was here, I had a lot of matches under my belt. I had an amazing year last year, felt very confident.
“This year I’ve barely competed really. It’s been an extremely mentally challenging kind of year. My ranking has dropped a fair bit. I just haven’t gotten that match exposure.
“With all the training I’ve done, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to work on my body and work on my game. I can honestly say that 12 months down the line I do believe I’m a better tennis player. I believe I’m mentally better than I was here last year. I felt very anxious about playing, how to deal with it, whereas this year I feel more complete.
“When I feel like I’ve got a few matches under my belt, when I see the ball well and stuff, I feel like I’m able to get quite a lot of returns back in court.
“Staying in those return games is really important because if you have a big serve, you’re putting pressure through easy service games, when you get those returns back in court, it’s important to keep on making them play.”
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 10, 2023
Draper’s thrilling end to the year will continue into December as he has signed up for the UTS Finals in London after accepting a wildcard and Patrick Mouratoglou, who super-coach who is the brainchild behind the quick-fire version of tennis, is expecting big things from the Brit in 2024.
“He is back in court and hopefully he can avoid injuries now because Jack is a big talent,” he added.
“We are delighted to have him playing at the UTS Finals because he will be playing at home and will be super motivated. The crowd will be behind him.
“He has a huge game and playing indoors will help him, but he will have a problem in UTS because you only have one serve and that might take a big weapon away from him.
“It will also be great to see him relying on something else to win matches and he has that in his game.
“Jack is the future of British tennis and maybe the future of tennis as well so it’s amazing to have him play UTS.”
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