Wimbledon 2021: Is Jack Draper the 'new Andy Murray'?
Jack Draper is set to be the next big British men's talent, but who is he?
Wimbledon 2021 is finally here and, just as with Euros, it feels like we've been waiting forever. Like many sporting events, the 2020 championships were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and didn't resume until August of 2020. But fear not - get your glass of Robinsons in hand and the strawberries and cream out of the fridge because we're back, baby!
Perhaps one of the most exciting parts about the return of Wimbledon is the up and coming tennis talent on show: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Coco Gauff, Jannik Sinner; we may not be able to see any Naomi Osaka this year, but one player we will get to watch is tipped be the 'next Andy Murray'.
Who is Jack Draper?
Jack Draper is a 19-year-old tennis star born in Sutton who is currently being touted as the best British male prospect since Andy Murray broke onto the scene 16 years ago. Speaking to BBC Sport, he revealed he's actually already practised against the Scotsman, as well as Dan Evans.
Draper, who only made his ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) debut back in March - a promising match at the Miami Open that was cut short after he collapsed with heat exhaustion - went on to seriously impress at Queens earlier this month, beating Sinner and Alexander Bublik on his way to the quarter-finals. It was only his second tournament of the pro tour.
He was named as a wild card for Wimbledon 2021, along with 18-year-old women's prospect, Emma Raducanu - the pair being labelled the "next generation" of tennis talent in the UK. We can't wait to see them try and impress.
What is his background?
Draper, who turned pro in 2018, comes from a family of fine tennis players: his mother, Nicky, was the best junior in Britain; his father, Roger, was chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and his brother, Ben, has just finished a four-year tennis scholarship at the University of California. Impressive stuff.
Jack, himself, attended the same Surrey school as Tim Henman and, as mentioned, has regularly practised with the man he is supposedly destined to succeed: Andy Murray.
In terms of further credentials, as well as making it to the quarters at Queens, he played in a final at All England Club, having been runner-up in the Wimbledon 2018 boys’ singles, and has won seven ITF (International Tennis Federation) titles.
He achieved a career-high junior ranking of number seven that year and currently sits as the 253rd seed. He may have had a few injuries and health concerns in these early days of his career but, by all accounts, he only looks to be getting better. Even his first opponent is approaching him cautiously...
Who is Jack Draper playing?
Oh, you know, just the world number one, Novak Djoković. Gulp.
Draper's Wimbledon debut in the men's singles starts at 1:30pm today against, arguably, the man who could go down as the most decorated male player of all time. Djokovic hasn't lost a Grand Slam match this year and is coming off the back of winning a ninth Australian Open title and second place at the French Open.
If the 34-year-old Serb wins a third successive Wimbledon, he will pull level with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who both currently hold the men's record of 20 major titles. We are in the presence of greatness, so let's just enjoy this golden era while it still lasts.
Djokovic said of Draper: "I've seen him play a little bit in Queen's where he beat Sinner. I practised with Sinner so I asked him about Draper's game" - clearly not underestimating his young opponent.
"I have to do my homework, speak to more players, watch some of the videos", he added. "It can be very dangerous, very tricky playing against a home favourite, someone that doesn't have much to lose, a guy who has beaten some really good players. I'm taking him very seriously."
The jury is still out on whether Jack Draper is the next Andy Murray or not but he's got a long career ahead of him. His 34-year-old counterpart also makes his return to the competition on Wimbledon opening day, after a long battle with injuries and off-the-court struggles. He faces off against Nikoloz Basilashvili this afternoon at 4:45pm.
Who do you think will make the better start to the tournament? Both are coming up against, let's just say, more than adequate opponents, but all it takes is that one match to start you on a roll.
Murray had some words of wisdom for the budding tennis star ahead of his match against the Serbian, so let's hope it spurs him on. He also had some slightly less serious words for us not long ago either - as he shared his thoughts on bad tennis movie tropes.
— JOE (@JOE_co_uk) April 27, 2021