Misc Tennis

US Open 2023: Jack Draper faces Andrey Rublev in New York last 16

Jack Draper spreads his arms in celebration

Jack Draper is the only British player left in the US Open singles
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 28 August-10 September
Coverage: Daily live text and radio commentaries across the BBC Sport website, app, BBC Radio 5 Live and 5 Sports Extra

It is testament to Jack Draper’s ability that everyone you ask about the 21-year-old Briton says there is a high bar to his potential.

But there is a caveat which always follows – the extent and speed of his progress all depends on him staying fit.

Draper rapidly climbed the world rankings last year to reach a career-high 38th in January, but his progress since has been stalled by the latest in a long line of injuries.

A shoulder problem even threatened his participation at this US Open, with Draper saying there was a “70-30” chance he would not play the final Grand Slam of the season.

Yet Draper has showed strong resolve to put those fears behind him, with the reward an impressive run to the last 16.

On Monday, he will aim to reach the quarter-finals when he takes on Russian eighth seed Andrey Rublev at about 18:30 BST.

“At the start of the week, there was real concern about my body,” said Draper, who has dropped outside the world’s top 100 during his lay-off.

“With the year I’ve had, there was doubt whether I’d be able to play one match.

“But when I am playing, I’m not just happy to be here and be happy to play. I’m a competitor when I get into the matches. I want to win everything.”

‘Nobody realises how hard it is to come back from injury’

A confident and assured character who does not possess a hint of arrogance, Draper backs himself against any opponent.

Notable victories against top-10 players Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime helped his sharp rise at the back end of last year.

Draper also took a set off 22-time major champion Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open before retiring with cramping.

Further chances to test himself against the very best have been rare.

The shoulder injury suffered at the French Open derailed Draper’s progress again, with the dejected youngster telling the British media he “hated being the guy who is injured a lot”.

The muscle tear kept him out until last month but, in just his second event back, he suffered a similar issue which left him a doubt for the US Open.

Jack Draper and Andrey Rublev shake hands after their 2022 match at the Madrid Open
Draper has lost both of his previous matches against Rublev, with the defeats coming last year in Madrid and Washington

Fellow British player Dan Evans said Draper reaching the last 16 of a major for the first time after so…

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