Sunday 7th July 2013, Wimbledon Center Court. It’s just after 6pm and the deadliest backhand in the history of Novak Djokovic sinks into the net. Andy Murray he drops the racket first, then the hat, then shakes his clenched fists towards his corner with a demonic attitude that is truly scary.
The wait is over: after 77 years, Great Britain returns to the top of the world. That July afternoon, in the stands, there is also a little boy who has yet to blow out 12 candles. He is the son of Roger Draper, CEO of the LTA from 2006 to 2013 (the British federtennis, ed) and Nicki Draper, Her Majesty’s former tennis promise. He plays well in football, so much so that he is part of the Chelsea youth sector, but he has already become familiar with the racket. His name is Jack, Jack Draper.
That same Jack Draper, last Sunday, set a world record. And even if we talk about the Challenger, the record still deserves to be put in the spotlight. The Briton is the first player in tennis history to win four titles in the three months leading up to the season. The first pursuers today are the blue Luca Nardi and French Quentin Halys, but both are still at two. He, Jack, of Challenger has brought home double: after the hat-trick in Forlì, here is poker in Saint-Brieuc, in France. Today he is not yet in the top 100 (he is 124, best ranking), but he is number 37 in the Race and third among the Next Gen.
“How did I start playing? Simple – says Jack -, my mother taught at an academy in Sutton and, not being able to leave me at home, she took me with her. It was inevitable that I would start playing for hours. I believe that my path has always been marked. At the age of 11 I was already aware and happy with what I knew my life would be “. Probably not even he imagined that eight years later, right on that pitch, he would even snatch a set from that Novak Djokovic who fell under the blows of the childhood hero.
The results at the youth level are excellent. The British southpaw triumphs first nationally, then internationally, reaching the final of the Under 18 Championships lost 6-4 in the third to Chun Hsin Tseng. On the pitch, things work, it’s more complicated outside. “There was a lot of jealousy when I was younger,” Draper said in a recent interview with Telegraph Sport. “I often went to junior tournaments and there were 15 unknown guys in the stands who wanted me to lose, messing up before my serve and all that sort of thing.” Jack will have thought back to those moments after last year’s victories at Queen’s over Jannik Sinner and Alexander Bublik. “As a child – he remembers – I used to come to see the tournament and cheer for Murray. In my room there is a photo with the trophy, I was eight and he was almost older than me. The results achieved here by the British players have been a source of inspiration, and to have reached the quarterfinals here, for me, was a really great result. “