From the sofa to the court: Watching Carlos Alcaraz inspired Jack Draper's return to beating him at Queen's

Sunday, 30 June 2024 at 13:00
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Jack Draper will return to Wimbledon for the first time in two years next week as the British No.1 and with the impending retirement of Andy Murray, the next heir to the throne of British tennis. But it has been a fraught route through for the new crown prince.
He had to sit out the tournament last year alongside another Brit in Emma Raducanu as both with so much potential had to watch on from the stands early on and then in Draper's case the sofa as he couldn't take part.
A new coach and a new impetus this year, Draper has joined forces with Wayne Ferreira and has hoisted himself back into contention, seeding and becoming British No.1. He also won Stuttgart and also toppled the Roland Garros champion, Carlos Alcaraz. A player who he said motivated him to return to his best after watching him on the sofa last year.
“It was really difficult. I obviously didn't just miss this one. I missed Queen's, the whole grass,” Draper said as per Express Sport.
“I think I sat on my couch for most of it, just kind of really frustrated, watching all the matches. I remember I watched a couple matches. I think I watched the Broady-Ruud match, which was amazing to see Broads doing well.”
“Obviously watched the full final, which was hard to watch obviously someone so young winning the title, showing what he's capable of. It really, really motivated me and was actually I think a blessing in disguise because my body wasn't ready. I don't think mentally I was ready either to be a top player. It was a good sort of break that I needed to sort of rediscover the fire I needed. From there, I've been great.”
He also described what it was like forging his route back in as a player who doesn't get wildcards and all of the help to return to his best. “All of a sudden going to the U.S. swing, I was ranked 110, 120. I was back to sort of Challengers. No chance of wild cards, all the rest of it. It's really difficult to know. You just don't know how quickly you're going to get back. You don't know how much hard work it's going to be. But like I said, it was good for me because I knew a lot of things had to change. I had to really work on myself physically.”
"Even though I was on the couch watching that final, when I got injured, it was my number one goal to come back, to be really strong, to be robust. I did that,” he explained.
“It was never my tennis that was the problem. It was always just trying to get this body more robust. So I think sort of since that moment I watched Alcaraz win Wimbledon when I was on the couch, that sort of gave me huge motivation to want to come back to these big events and be seeded and be in a great position like I am, to give myself the opportunity to play on the biggest stages against the best players. I've come a long way in a year, and I'm very proud of that. I just want to keep going.”

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