Jack Draper’s Dramatic Miami Open Exit Isn’t The First Setback He Has Suffered - UBITENNIS
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Jack Draper’s Dramatic Miami Open Exit Isn’t The First Setback He Has Suffered

Doubts over his future, contracting COVID-19 and falling ill in Miami. The past year has been full of challenges for the British tennis prodigy.

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Jack Draper (image via https://twitter.com/the_LTA)

British teenager Jack Draper will never forget his debut on the ATP Tour but unfortunately it will be for the wrong reasons.

 

The 19-year-old has been dubbed as one of his country’s rising stars. Awarded a wildcard into this week’s Miami Open Draper played his maiden ATP match on Thursday against Mikhail Kukushkin which came to a premature end. Playing in the blistering heat, the world No.316 had a medical time out during the closing stages of the opener. Then when facing a set point he fell to the ground which prompted him to retire from the match.

“About midway through I started feeling my back. I think the conditions got on top of me a little bit today,” Draper said following the match. “Physically, I just need to improve more and I got a lot to improve on.”

It would be easy for the youngster to blame the conditions or his inexperience for the outcome. Instead he says ‘the heat was difficult but everybody has to deal with it’ before going on to explain that a lack of match play in recent time due to injury affected him. Prior to Miami, Draper has played two Challenger and two ITF events this year.

“I have gone through a stage where I haven’t played a lot of tennis due to a few injuries and niggles which has kept me off (the court) a little bit. My match fitness is probably not at its best anyway,” he stated.
“At the changeover I started to feel my body a bit but I did know that I was really struggling. I spoke to them (the medical team) and said I was going to carry on. I wasn’t feeling faint and wanted to complete the match. On the last point I actually didn’t collapse, I tripped because I was starting to feel really dizzy.”

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Draper, whose father was once the head of the LTA, first rose to prominence back in 2018 when he reached the final of the Wimbledon Boys tournament. Since then he has experienced a steady rise in the rankings and won seven ITF titles with the last occurring shortly before the Tour suspension due to COVID-19 last year.

Ironically the break in play enabled Draper to reevaluate his priorities in the sport and if he still has the drive to succeed the best he can. He admits that he previously had his doubts but they are now a thing of the past.

“This year I’ve really got the desire and the motivation to be a great tennis player,” he stated. “There’s been times in the past where maybe I have been a bit apprehensive about that but as I’ve got older I started to realise what I wanted to do and what I’m capable of.’
“I want to get to the top level of the game and I do anything to get there.”

After sorting out his plans for the future, Draper committed to a full off-season training block at the end of 2020 before he suffered another setback when he contracted COVID-19. It occurred during the same time as the outbreak at the National Tennis Center (NTC) which is where Andy Murray speculates he got infected and led to criticism from some players. Concerns were raised over a lack of social distancing and relaxation in protocols at the venue during December.

“I found out at a time when I was at the NTC. Whether I caught it from there I have no idea,” said Draper. “Whatever has been said I thought the LTA did an incredible job with handling the COVID situation. There were a lot of precautions in place.”

Having had the virus in January, some may question if Draper’s Miami Open fatigue could be related. Players such as Grigor Dimitrov and Stan Wawrinka have previously spoken about the weeks it took them to fully recover from the illness. However, the Brit isn’t so sure about himself.

“It did affect me quite badly for about seven days and then I recovered quite quickly. It definitely had an effect on me because I just had loads of training and that was pretty much taken away from me,” he revealed.
“You can’t say (if it affected his performance in Miami). I put in loads of great training since then so there’s no excuse. You don’t know how much it really affects you.”

Draper is currently coached on the Tour by Ryan Jones and fitness trainer Martin Skinner. He plans to return to England to play in the upcoming Pro Series in Loughborough to enhance his match fitness before taking part in a series of Challenger tournaments in Italy.

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Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.

 

The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas sets up blockbuster third round match against Matteo Berrettini in Rome

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Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 to advance to third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Tsitsipas has improved his win-loss record to 28-7 this season, equalling Andrey Rublev for most match wins after Rublev beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 6-4 earlier today. 

Tsitsipas had to save two break points in the ninth game to hold serve after four deuces. The 2021 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters winner earned his crucial break in the 12th game to win a hard-fought first set 7-5. 

Tsitsipas was in control of the match and cruised to a 6-2 win in the second set with two breaks in the second and eighth games. 

“Sometimes I need to adjust my game and Marin is someone I respect a lot. I knew he was going to come out here and play his best tennis. He made move a lot. It was quite tricky to adjust to that at the beginning, but towards the very end of the first set I stayed calm and stayed calm and resilient. I had to play deep on the returns and find solutions from the baseline rallies. That worked well for me from 6-5”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas set up a blockbuster third round match against last week’s Madrid Mutua Open finalist Matteo Berrettini, who beat John Millman 6-4 6-2 in front of fans, who will return on Thursday. Tsitsipas enjoyed the atmosphere on the Pietrangeli Stadium. 

“The Pietrangeli Stadium is very beautiful. It’s one of the best courts on tour. I feel like the Pietrangeli here is great. We are surrounded by trees in the city and it’s very quiet which is very important for tennis. Honestly, I can’t wait for the fans to come and fill in the stadium”, said Tsitsipas. 

Berrettini missed three consecutive break points in the third game of the opening set and earned his first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The Rome-native star served out the first set at 15. Berrettini earned two consecutive breaks to race out to 4-0 lead. Millman saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game, but Berrettini never looked back in his next two service games to claim the second set 6-2. 

Berrettini has improved with his each appearance in the Rome tournament, reaching the second round in 2018, the third round in 2019 and the quarter final in 2020. 

Tsitsipas beat Berrettini in their only head-to-head match at the 2019 Australian Open. 

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