Jack Draper slumped into a chair, hiding his face in disappointment after an intense afternoon of top-notch tennis resulted in Great Britain’s 2-0 loss to Serbia in the first round of the Davis Cup. His despair was evident to everyone present. With Novak Djokovic up next in the second match of the quarter-final tie, the sold-out crowd at the José María Martín Carpena Arena in Málaga knew how crucial the first match was.
Despite putting up a tough fight, Draper ultimately lost the match after two close tiebreaks. However, his performance on the court was solid and he gave it his all. He managed to stay in the first set before faltering in the tiebreak, but then bounced back and nearly won the second set with just a few crucial points.
Although the 21-year-old performed decently, Miomir Kecmanovic was exceptional. As a promising player waiting for his big moment, he stepped up and delivered one of his top performances of the year, earning a well-deserved victory.
At times, the adversary may simply be superior. The encounter serves as a crucial aspect of Draper’s learning process, a significant stage in his development as a person, and in the near future, he is expected to lead the British Davis Cup team. During his media briefing following the match, it was admirable to witness Draper acknowledge the benefits of his loss despite feeling frustrated. He stated, “Although I am focused on the match, it is a valuable experience for me at such a young age.”
Despite the challenges that Draper faced throughout the year, his ability to participate in Britain’s Davis Cup attempt while maintaining good health is a significant achievement. Despite facing multiple injuries last season, Draper showed noticeable improvement and reached a career-high ranking of 42. He is now on track to climb even higher into the top 30 and possibly beyond.
This year, he began with a similar performance, making it to the semi-finals in Adelaide. He then had a challenging match against Rafael Nadal in the first round of the Australian Open, lasting four sets. However, things took a turn for the worse as he struggled with recurring injuries such as his hip, abdomen, and shoulder. These injuries prevented him from playing and even forced him to withdraw from Wimbledon. By September, his world ranking had dropped to 123 and he was once again competing in ATP Challenger tournaments after a brief return to the professional circuit.
After sustaining a shoulder injury in May, I faced a challenging situation as I had not played any matches throughout the year. It felt like my ranking was continuously declining. When I returned to playing, my ranking had dropped to 130. It was a difficult task to work my way back up through the Challenger matches and handle the mental setback.
After coming back right before the US Open, Draper has swiftly regained his top performance. He achieved his best career result by reaching the fourth round in New York, won an ATP Challenger tournament, and made it to his first ATP final in Sofia just a few weeks ago. As a result, his ranking has dropped by half since September and he is now ranked No 60 in the world.
The outcome of this recent defeat will leave him with a positive mindset as he works towards climbing higher in the rankings during the off-season. As always, it will be crucial for him to maintain a strong physical condition in order to handle the demands of the tour. With determination, there is potential for even greater success in the future.
Although Cameron Norrie lost to Djokovic in straight sets on Thursday, he was content with his effort and determination against the top-ranked player. In preparation for the Davis Cup finals, he took an uncommon approach by taking a break and opting out of the Paris Masters.
After experiencing a small knee injury, it appears evident that Norrie’s demanding schedule has taken its toll on him, following two remarkable years that led to his rise as a top 20 player. Since Wimbledon, Norrie has shown signs of exhaustion, with a disappointing record of 4 wins and 12 losses.
Norrie hopes to use the off-season to rest and train in order to be physically and mentally prepared to reach his peak performance at the start of the upcoming season. While his past two years competing with top players has been admirable, he is determined to achieve even more.