Jack Draper’s solid form on the grass propelled him into his second career TAUT quarter-final – and his first of 2022 – on Wednesday at the Rothesay International in Eastbourne. Britain’s #NextGenATP followed a straight-sets win over Jenson Brooksby with a 7-5, 7-6(3) upset over fourth seed Diego Schwartzman as he recorded multiple wins in a level event tour for the first time this season.
Playing at home for the third test in a row, Draper broke serve three times in the victory while saving four of the six break points against him. The 20-year-old settled into the competition after dropping the love serve in the opening game. Although he failed to serve out the game at 5-3 in the second – again losing four points in a row – he regrouped to save a break point at 5-5 and won the final five points tie-break to advance.
“I got a little tight and a little hesitant. Sometimes when that happens you can come back a little bit and start playing more offensively,” Draper explained. “My coach was trying to tell me to be brave, to try to impose his game on the pitch. At this level, guys take advantage [if you don’t do that].
“It was a really tough game with Diego. He’s a great competitor, a great player and he’s at the top of the game for a reason. Very happy to have come through the game.”
The Briton played aggressive tennis in front of his home fans, winning and losing points as he pleased with 30 winners and 35 unforced errors. In both sets, he found the range in the crucial final moments.
Draper advances to face countryman and countryman Ryan Peniston or Spaniard Pedro Martinez in the quarter-finals. Peniston led that game, 7-6(8), 3-6, 3-2 when suspended due to darkness Wednesday night.
“If it’s Ryan it’s good news because it’s another Brit in the quarter-finals,” he said. “Very happy with the way he’s playing at the moment. I think it’s really good for British tennis, to have another guy who plays great tennis. It will be a tough match if I play him, two left-handers .
“If I play against Martinez, he’s another player who’s in the Top 50. He’s a really tough competitor. It’s going to be tough to play him. I’ve been training with him quite a bit. Anyway , I can’t wait to see who I am playing.”
An all-British semi-final against top seed Cameron Norrie could also be on the cards if both men advance.
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The Sutton native broke into the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time on June 13 behind four ATP Challenger Tour titles this season. On the same day, he celebrated with an upset win over third seed Taylor Fritz at the Cinch Championships.
Draper is also fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Milan, putting him in a strong position to make his debut at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in November.