Daily Mail

Draper topples his idol Murray in watershed win

- By MIKE DICKSON Tennis Correspond­ent

The emotional bear hug Jack Draper gave Andy Murray after beating him in Indian Wells told of how much overcoming a childhood idol had meant to him.

In the course of a 7-6, 6-2 victory Draper, 21, had again showcased his rich seam of talent and emphasised why, for some, he has at least as much potential as emma Raducanu.

The broadly underperfo­rming British game has thrown up not one, but two gems who can contend with the sport’s elite.

There was a sense of watershed about Draper’s third-round win over Murray in the early hours of yesterday.

Unlike Raducanu, who has no tennis in her lineage, the strapping left-hander from Surrey was always destined to play the game. his father Roger is the one-time chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Associatio­n and his mother Nicky a coach and formerly a fine junior player.

Among the cognoscent­i of the British game, Draper has been on the radar longer than his female counterpar­t. It was only Raducanu’s extraordin­ary summer of 2021 that propelled her fame ahead of his.

While Raducanu stayed on to complete her A-levels, Draper effectivel­y left school at 13 to focus on fulfilling his immense tennis promise. having travelled extensivel­y around the junior circuit, at the age of 16 he not only reached the final of the boys’ event at Wimbledon, but won his first two profession­al titles at the Futures level.

Like Raducanu, his progress has been interrupte­d by the pandemic and minor injuries. This is Draper’s first year on the ATP Tour. he only left behind the lower levels in 2022 when he reeled off four Challenger titles (the tier below) in the first three months of the year.

In the summer there was more confirmati­on of his pedigree with wins over then world No 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas in Canada and No 8 Felix Auger-Aliassime at the US Open. he was due another test of his progress last night against world No 2 Carlos Alcaraz in the fourth round.

Given his build, the assumption might be that the Draper game is led by his serve, but he has far more than that. he has an excellent return, his backhand is clean and his forehand has heavy spin on it.

The strength of his baseline game stems from the fact that when his method was being honed as a youngster he was relatively diminutive in stature — prior to a sudden growth spurt later in his teens — and needed to scrap for points.

Draper’s serve is more of a work in progress and could gain more consistenc­y and accuracy, but it was telling that against Murray he won 68 per cent of points behind his second serve.

As Murray has observed, he still has plenty of improvemen­t in him. ‘he’s going to be a top, top player for a long time, provided he stays healthy,’ said the 35-year-old Scot.

It was clear how much beating Murray represente­d for Draper. ‘I’ve looked up to Andy since I was so young,’ he said. ‘I watched him win Wimbledon in 2013 and then I’ve had the opportunit­y to get to know him and practise with him often.

‘he’s a really special person, a great champion, and I’m privileged to play against him.’

Raducanu was also due in fourth-round action overnight, against world No 1 Iga Swiatek.

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