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Jack Draper is determined to finally put his injuries behind him and prove that he can become one of the best players in the world.
Draper’s thrilling run at the US Open came to an end in the fourth round after a four-set loss to the Russian. Andrei Rublev.
THE British the number four, in the second week of a first-time grand slam, fell 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 to eighth-seeded Rublev.
But Draper’s performance this week will hopefully indicate an upward curve in such a promising career hampered by fitness issues.
The 21-year-old has had an injury-plagued year and has fallen from 38th in January to outside the top 100.
A shoulder problem caused him to miss Wimbledon and also threatened his participation in Flushing Meadows.
Yet although he served well in his own right in trying to deal with the problem, Draper was the only British player to reach the round of 16, and he gave combustible Russian Rublev plenty of reasons to let off steam in a seesaw competition.
“With the number of injuries I’ve had and the number of times I haven’t been able to compete, and I’ve been through some tough times in my career, honestly it’s been hard to believe that I could make it this far. ‘At the end in a grand slam competition right now,’ he said.
“It’s not my tennis that’s holding me back, it’s my physique and my ability to stay on the court regularly.
“Once I do that, I think I will prove to myself that I can be one of the best players in the world.
“My tennis is right there. I’ve barely played the last few months and I came here, got to the fourth round and pushed a top 10 player today.
“If I can just get it right, and still be able to compete and train, I think I can go all the way in this sport, 100 percent.”
Draper took some time to settle in as the first set got away from him; Rublev not only serves at 125 mph, but he seems to play at that pace as well.
But he played a brilliant set to level the match and broke again early in the third, only for the lack of time on court this year to begin to take its toll as Rublev ultimately triumphed in two hours and 45 minutes.
“The first two sets were a battle and I started to struggle physically after I beat him in the third set,” Draper added.
“I gave it my all mentally, but I was pretty exhausted. That’s where, now that I’m in shape, we can go back to basics and try to work every day to be better with that intensity.
“It’s difficult when you’re gone for so long and you don’t have any feedback. I can train with more intensity now remembering that match and how exhausted I was afterwards.