Wimbledon 2018: Is Jack Draper the next star of British tennis?

  • Posted: Jul 14, 2018
Wimbledon 2018 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club, Wimbledon Dates: 2-15 July
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At 18-17 in the final set of the Wimbledon boys’ semi-final, having failed to convert nine match points, 16-year-old Jack Draper decided he needed to channel his inner Andy Murray.

“I was in the crowd during his 2013 Wimbledon final and watched him refuse to give up. He is my inspiration,” said the British teenager.

After four hours and 24 minutes, in the sweltering heat of court three, Draper nailed an overhead smash to beat Colombia’s Nicolas Mejia in an epic battle of endurance.

“It was torture to be honest,” he admitted to BBC Sport.

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Surrey-born Draper is such a big Murray fan he has even adopted some of the on-court mannerisms of the former world number one.

As the frustrated Draper lost his seventh match point, he shouted in the direction of his coaching team: ‘what is wrong with my brain?!’

On reflection, Draper said: “I was talking loads of rubbish in the heat of the moment and they have to deal with that. I’m just an idiot.

“Realistically, I know the only person that can help me out there is myself.

“I knew if I held my serve and kept putting him under pressure, he would eventually break.”

At 6ft 2in and equipped with a ferocious serve and a stinging forehand, Draper looks like he was born to be a professional tennis player – and he was.

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His mother, a coach, took him along to the tennis club from the age of three where he would hit balls against the brick wall.

And his father is Roger Draper – the former chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association.

But Jack is determined to let his tennis do the talking.

“I don’t feel any added pressure,” he said before Sunday’s final. “I know I have to just keep my feet on the ground and keep working day in, day out.

“I may have done well in this tournament so far, but I don’t want that to define me as a senior player. I’m no Andy Murray yet.”

At this point, Laura Robson springs to mind.

After winning the girls’ Wimbledon title in 2008, the Briton was billed as the next Virginia Wade, but injury has plagued her senior career and, as yet, she hasn’t quite lived up to the hype.

Draper will have to overcome the world junior number one, Chinese Taipei’s Chun Hsin Tseng, to become the first British boy since 1962 to win the title. The last person to do it was Stanley Matthews – son of footballing legend Sir Stanley.

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“He’s a great prodigy and it’s going to be a really tough match but it would mean the world to me to win,” said Draper.

“I’ve already put my family through a lot of stress so it would be great to do it for them.

“My nanna is extremely supportive of my tennis. She lives in Wigan but has come down to support me this week.”

So what does the immediate future look like for Draper? Catching up with Love Island is one thing.

“I haven’t watched it for a week, but Jack and Dani are going to win it,” he said. And he’ll also be receiving his GCSE results soon, just like any normal 16-year-old.

“The ultimate goal is to win Grand Slams,” he added. “Wimbledon is the biggest of them all because it’s in my home country, but I would love to say I am a Grand Slam winner one day.”

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