Draper Captures Biggest Win Of His Career At Queen’s Club

Jack Draper (photo: Luke Walker/Getty Images for LTA)

LONDON/WASHINGTON, June 20, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

New British No. 1 Jack Draper recorded the biggest win of his young career at the ATP 500 cinch Championships – and he did it in style, too.

On a sun-splashed Centre Court at Queen’s Club in West London, and in front of his family and many friends, the 22-year-old lefty from Sutton, England (south of London) extended his winning streak on grass to seven straight with a convincing 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory over defending champion and World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, who was fresh off winning his third major title two weeks ago at Roland-Garros.

The 31st-ranked Draper arrived home after winning his first ATP Tour title in Stuttgart, Germany at the BOSS Open on Sunday. Since then, he’s strung together consecutive straight-set wins over No. 29 Mariano Navone of Argentina and Alcaraz. He will meet No. 5 seed Tommy Paul of the United States in the quarterfinals on Friday.

During his one-hour, 39-minute triumph, Draper controlled his emotions brilliantly against Alcaraz, especially during an 18-point, 10-minutes-plus eighth game of the second set. After breaking the 21-year-old Spaniard with an impressive backhand winner to go ahead 4-2, then consolidating for a 5-2 lead, Draper let three match points slip away out of his grasp as Alcaraz remained resilient in holding serve. However, the Briton’s determination never wavered.

Instead, in the very next game on his serve, Draper set up his fourth match point by hitting his eighth ace. Then, he closed out the victory after Alcaraz netted a fourth-shot forehand. It was Draper’s first win over Alcaraz in their third tour-level meeting.

“It was a really tough match,” Draper said in his on-court interview. “I knew coming out here Carlos is defending champion here, obviously won at Wimbledon last year. He’s an incredible talent and so amazing for the sport. So I had to come out and play really well and luckily I did today, so thank you.”

With his 20th victory of the season coming in his 32th match, Draper became the first British player to defeat a Top-2 player on grass courts since Andy Murray beat No. 1 Novak Djokovic to win the 2013 Wimbledon title. He did it by staying calm and focused during the important points.

“There’s no place I’d rather be right now, with my family, my friends,” Draper said, smiling. “The British support, you guys are amazing and I want to keep on playing here. I’m happy to come back.”

Draper dazzled by winning 82 percent of his first-serve points, striking 24 winners to just 11 unforced errors, and saved the only break point he faced. He outpointed Alcaraz 75-66.

How significant was Draper’s win? Very significant, when one considers that Alcaraz came into the second-round tussle with Draper on an eight-match winning streak, following his Roland-Garros title run in Paris and after defeating Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina in the first round on Tuesday. He also was 13-0 on grass since the start of the 2023 season. The loss marked just the second time in eight tournaments Alcaraz had not reached at least the quarterfinal stage.

With the victory, Draper climbed to a career-high No. 28 in the PIF ATP Live Rankings.

British wild card Harris reaches first ATP Tour quarterfinal

The second of two Brits in action Thursday, 162nd-ranked wild card Billy Harris, defeated qualifier Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard of France, ranked 67th, 6-4, 7-5, in an hour and 10 minutes to reach his first ATP Tour quarterfinal. He put away the victory on his third match-point opportunity with a satisfying fifth-shot forehand winner.

After earning the biggest win of his career over No. 32 Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina in the first round, the 29-year-old Harris held his nerve superbly against Mpetshi Perricard to become the third-lowest-ranked cinch Championships quarterfinalist since 2020 behind compatriots No. 309 Jack Draper in 2021 and No. 180 Ryan Peniston in 2022.

“[Winning] means massive amounts for my confidence. I came into this match knowing [Giovanni] was going to be tough with his serve,” Harris said of Mpetshi Perricard, who finished with 15 aces. “First, I’m thinking his serve has to slow down. The game is quick and I knew I just had to keep my focus. I got the breaks when I needed the, and thought I played well.”

Harris hit nine aces, won 87 percent of his first-serve points, struck 19 winners and made just four unforced errors. He outpointed his opponent 64-48.

“I didn’t know how I would react to coming out here today,” Harris admitted in his on-court interview, “but as soon as I got on court, I felt like I gained great support from the crowd and they helped me through the match.”

On Friday, Harris will face No. 30 Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, who defeated No. 63 Brandon Nakashima of the United States, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, in two hours and 27 minutes, behind 34 winners and three breaks of serve. Musetti outpointed Nakashima 105-94.

Around The Queen’s Club

• No. 5 seed Tommy Paul of the United States became the third American to reach the quarterfinals this year at Queen’s Club. With his 69-minute 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 24 Alejandro Tabilo of Chile, Paul has advanced to back-to-back quarterfinals after reaching the last eight in ‘s-Hertogenbosch last week.

In ascending to his 34th tour-level quarterfinal – including his second in West London after 2022 – the 13th-ranked Paul hit 24 winners, made only 12 unforced errors and converted break points in both sets against Tabilo. He outpointed his opponent 68-48.

“It’s always nice when you break early in the set. It lets off a little pressure,” Paul said in his on-court interview after securing his 24th win of the season, including his third on grass.

“I’m playing my kind of tennis, I’m playing aggressively, getting to the net and pressuring my opponent. It’s been working and I’m having fun out here, too.”

• Doubles No. 2 seeds Rajeev Ram of the United States and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain advanced to the quarterfinal round with a 7-6 (6), 7-5 win over singles stars Sebastian Korda of the United States and Alex de Minaur of Australia. Ram and Salisbury outpointed their opponents 78-62 during their 82-minute match.

Also advancing were: Defending champions and No. 4 seeds Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Austin Krajicek of the United States; No. 3 seeds Marcelo Arevalo-Gonzalez of El Salvador and Mate Pavic of Croatia; and No. 8 seeds Taylor Fritz of the United States and Karen Khachanov of Russia.

Thursday’s cinch Championships results

Friday’s cinch Championships order of play

By the numbers

With three Americans – Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Sebastian Korda – through to the quarterfinal round in singles, its worth noting that the last time it happened at Queen’s Club was in 2009 with James Blake, Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick.

“Quotable …”

“Although the last few years might have seemed okay, it’s been hard, it’s been really hard on the body. Physically it’s been tough. A lot of days where it’s not been that much fun to train and practice and everything. But, yeah, obviously I have tried to work through it and find ways to get on the court and compete at this level. But tennis is a really, really hard sport.”

Andy Murray, during his post-match news conference Wednesday, describing his physical condition. Murray retired from his second-round match against Jordan Thompson trailing 4-1 after just 23 minutes.