Jack Draper ‘overwhelmed’ as British hot prospect reaches Wimbledon boys’ final
He took the long route to this weekend’s title match.
Jack Draper had never heard of Stanley Matthews Jr but is excited to be the player who will try to emulate his achievement.
Matthews Jr, son of the famous footballer, was the last British boy to win junior Wimbledon back in 1962, but Draper has his chance to end a 56-year drought after booking his place in Sunday’s final.
He had to do it the hard way on Court Three, beating Colombia’s Nicolas Mejia 7-6 (7/5) 6-7 (6/8) 19-17 after four hours and 23 minutes, taking his 10th match point.
“I haven’t heard that name, it must be quite a long time ago,” said the 16-year-old, who is the first Briton to reach the boys’ final since Liam Broady seven years ago.
Court One is set to stage the biggest match of his tennis life so far.
“I mean, wow, as a young Brit, you dream of being on those big courts,” Draper said. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge. It’s going to be very exciting.
“I can’t feel my legs, but apart from that I’m overwhelmed by it all. I was happy with the way I sort of came through it.”
Draper, the son of former Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper, has been viewed as one of Britain’s brightest young talents for a number of years but this has been his breakthrough tournament on the international stage.
A left-hander with a powerful serve and heavy topspin forehand, the 16-year-old also showed his qualities as a fighter.
For a long while he just could not finish off the match, though. He had chances across four separate Mejia service games in the decider without being able to convert, while the Colombian had five chances to break at 11-11, all of which were saved.
On they went, with Draper’s frustration growing as more glimpses of the finish line arrived before retreating into the distance. But, at 18-17, Draper smashed away a desperate Mejia lob before falling onto the grass in delight and exhaustion.
He was thrilled to come through the “torture” of missing so many match points.
“I don’t think anything can really prepare you for that sort of match as a junior player,” he said. “That’s probably the longest match I’ve had.
“I can’t really remember most of it. I think it was sort of just a massive relief to actually have the match over after so many torture match points, him playing very well in them.
“I think I did very well in the end. I was just very happy.”
Draper will face top seed Tseng Chun-hsin in the final on Sunday and knows he has his work cut out.
He added: “I know he’s an extremely tough opponent. He’s doing well on the men’s side, as far as I know. He’s, of course, the number one junior. He’s a very good prospect. It will be tough to beat him.”
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