Jack Draper has revealed Carlos Alcaraz and Emma Raducanu are two of his biggest inspirations.
Draper, 20, has enjoyed a strong start to the season with four ATP Challenger titles and two match wins at ATP Masters events in Miami and Madrid. He also pushed world No. 8 Andrey Rublev close in the Spanish capital and beat world No. 14 Taylor Fritz in the first round at the cinch Championships at Queen’s this week.
His success has pushed him up to fifth in the ATP Race to Milan, with the top eight 21-and-under players qualifying for the end-of-season finals event.
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Alcaraz, 19, won the tournament last year and Draper says the Spaniard, now ranked No. 7 in the world, is setting the “benchmark”.
“Alcaraz is very special. I see him as a benchmark kind of player,” he told the ATP Tour before his victory over Fritz.
“That is who I am judging myself against. His standards, his work rate and the way he plays. Watching someone like that you can learn a lot and I hope one day I will be competing for big titles against him.
“I know about the race, but I haven’t paid too much attention to it, because even though I am high up now, there are players who are in the top 50 and top 100 who have access to ATP Tour events where points are higher.
“I am not getting my hopes up because there are a lot of extremely good young players coming through.”
Draper caught the eye last summer when he took a set off Novak Djokovic in the first round at Wimbledon, having beaten Jannik Sinner and Alexander Bublik at Queen’s.
He is close friends with fellow Brit Emma Raducanu, who had her own breakout a year ago as she made the last 16 of Wimbledon and then won the US Open as a qualifier.
“It was a big motivation to see Emma win. Inspired me for sure,” said Draper.
“I think watching her do something special, made me think as someone in a tough place who was injured, I saw her do well and thought I could do that. Not to the same extent maybe as the women’s game is a bit younger, so you can do that a bit younger, but definitely shows you can go from a tough place to an incredible place quickly.”
Draper is currently ranked No. 99 in the world rankings. He is the fourth-highest ranked British male behind Cameron Norrie (11), Dan Evans (31) and Andy Murray (47).
“I think British tennis is in a really exciting place at the moment,” he said after his win over Fritz, in which he won 91 per cent of first-serve points and made just six unforced errors compared to 19 from the Indian Wells champion.
“We’ve got a lot of players coming through and getting into the top 100. We had the three guys and myself now today. We’re in a really good place for sure.”
He added: “I know my tennis is good enough, it is just about getting everything else right.
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“Being in Miami, Madrid and watching top players has given me a lot to learn from.
“Having the support from Dan, Andy and Cam and seeing what they are doing on tour is very motivating for me. I feel with their support I can go a long way as well.”
Reflecting on his form this season, Draper added: “I think the biggest thing has been that I have stayed injury-free.
“From 2019 I have barely been able to be on court and I have had quite a lot of bad injuries, so it is just about staying injury-free.
“It has been important to get my training right, training smart and looking after my body more. I know I have the tennis level and mindset to go far. I like to play aggressively and on the front foot, especially when I am in full flow. I have a big serve, big forehand and solid backhand. I have weapons really. It is just physically about where I am going to be.”
Draper will play either Emil Ruusuvuori or Quentin Halys in the second round at Queen’s.
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