Murray and Raducanu hand unintended gift to fellow Brit star as surge continues

Jack Draper has opened up on the impact of Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu’s success as he continues to “fly under the radar”. The 21-year-old recently reached his first ATP Tour final in Sofia just months after a shoulder injury forced him to miss Wimbledon. With Draper facing less scrutiny than his compatriots, he has been able to enjoy a successful comeback following multiple physical setbacks at the start of the year.

Draper is ending his 2023 season on a high after cramps and injuries to both his abdomen and his shoulder derailed things early on. The British No 4 recently won his fifth Challenger title in Bergamo and followed it up by reaching his first tour-level final, losing to Adian Mannarino in three sets at the Sofia Open. And he will now end the year as part of Britain’s squad at the Davis Cup Finals.

The 21-year-old started 2023 by reaching a career-high of No 38 in the world but his ranking took a tumble after he retired from Indian Wells with an abdominal problem and then injured his shoulder during his opening match at the French Open. Following another retirement, Draper missed the entire grass-court season but has enjoyed a successful return and recently jumped 21 spots in the rankings to No 61.

And Draper has been able to navigate his injury return away from the scrutiny that the likes of Murray and Raducanu usually receive as he admitted their past success meant he was less well-known. “It’s strange in a way, because I feel as though I’m well-known in the tennis community, but maybe less so in the UK generally,” the Brit told Tennis Majors.

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“I think people will know my name, but they won’t necessarily recognise me in the street.  I think because of the big names and big achievements we’ve had recently with Andy Murray still around and Raducanu’s win at the US Open, maybe I’ve been flying under the radar a little bit more than I otherwise would have.”

The lack of attention may have been something of an unintended gift to Draper, as he has been able to plug away in recovery and come out unscathed when it comes to criticism. But the 21-year-old also knows that his absence from the entire British grass-court summer also played a factor.

He added: “I obviously missed Wimbledon this summer as well, and a lot of people in the UK – if they aren’t big tennis fans – only watch tennis when Queen’s and Wimbledon come around.” Draper is now aiming high after getting off to a positive start after coming back from the shoulder injury.

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As well as his runs in Sofia and Bergamo, Draper also ticked off another milestone in just the third tournament of his comeback, reaching the second week of a Grand Slam at the US Open. Given his recent success, the world No 61 is now hoping to break into the top 20 next year.

“I’m going to take it more week by week. But I think with the ranking, I do have the target that I want to be in the top 20 by the end of the year,” he explained. “That’s the goal. Other than that, it’s about working hard, staying fit and getting to more finals.”

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