Draper thinks Brit stars ‘won’t be happy’ and explains awkward moment | Tennis | Sport

Jack Draper admitted his fellow British tennis stars “won’t like” seeing him possess the mantel of being British No.1. The 22-year-old triumphed over Elias Ymer in five sets at Wimbledon on Tuesday (July 2) to reach the second round of the Grand Slam for only the second time in his career.

An all-British clash against former Wimbledon semi-finalist Cameron Norrie awaits the Surrey-born star on Thursday (July 4) as he looks to best the 28-year-old for bragging rights. Asked whether the rivalry between the pair has been heightened since leapfrogging Norrie as British No.1, Draper admitted that Norrie, as well as Dan Evans, may not like seeing him ranked as the best the British have to offer in tennis.

“I haven’t really thought about it too much,” he said. “Obviously he won’t like the fact that I’m British No.1 now. I’m a lot younger. Obviously got Dan and Cam, Andy might be stopping soon. Dan and Cam definitely probably won’t like seeing me being British No.1. I think that creates a really healthy rivalry and environment”.

Draper famously won the first set in his first round Wimbledon clash against Novak Djokovic in 2021 before going on to lose the following three. He opened up about that experience and one of the more awkward moments he’s experienced at SW19.

“Yeah, I mean, I’ve obviously only been here a few times. Made the final of the juniors. Played obviously against Djokovic. I was here for like a day then, so very quick (smiling). Then made second round the time before. It was funny. Like when I arrived, I went to the changing rooms, there’s two changing rooms.

“I went to the changing rooms upstairs, got my locker, all my stuff, got everything I needed, got everything sorted. That’s what you sort of do as a player. You get your locker, you’re happy with it. The guy said, Oh, no, you’re in the wrong locker room. Go downstairs because you’re seeded now.

“No, it was a great feeling to obviously come here seeded, feeling like I belong a little bit more with the top players in the world. That’s exactly where I want to be. Yeah, I haven’t really thought too much of it. Just been cracking on.” While discussing the healthy rivalry that exists between the current crop of British players, he did acknowledge that they all want each other to succeed.

“Like I said, I think we all have great respect for each other. We all want to see each other succeed and do well. It’s nice to practice with him when I can. For sure, we’re all competitors, we’re all individuals. We want to win. We want to do the best we can. I think it’s going to be a really competitive match on Thursday. Yeah, there won’t be any love lost, for sure.”

Draper will be hoping to add onto the legacy within British tennis built by Andy Murray, who, on Tuesday, announced his withdrawal from Wimbledon singles after failing to recover fully from the spinal cyst surgery he underwent last month. The 37-year-old will still compete in the doubles alongside his brother, Jamie.

In a statement released by his team, it read: “Unfortunately, despite working incredibly hard on his recovery since his operation just over a week ago, Andy has taken the very difficult decision not to play the singles this year. As you can imagine, he is extremely disappointed but has confirmed that he will be playing in the doubles with Jamie and looks forward to competing at Wimbledon for the last time”.

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