Jack Draper was starstruck the first few times he met Andy Murray, but the 21-year-old Briton showcased star power of his own Monday night with a classy performance against his countryman at the BNP Paribas Open.
Draper won the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting 7-6(6), 6-2 for his second straight victory against a fellow Briton in Indian Wells, having beaten Daniel Evans in the second round. He saved a set point with an ace at 5-6 in the opening set, then rattled off the final four games to seal a famous result, clinching it on a double fault for his third break of the match.
“I’ve looked up to Andy since I was so young. I watched him win Wimbledon for the first time in 2013 and then I’ve had the opportunity to get to know him and practise with him often since 2019,” the 6-foot-4 lefty said post-match. “He’s a really special person, a great champion, great human being and I’m privileged to play against him on this court.”
In a two-hour match full of entertaining exchanges, Draper won just enough of them to claim an up-and-down opening set before driving his advantage home in the second by leaning on his lefty serve and forehand. He also attacked the net to great effect throughout, winning 18 of his 26 points from the frontcourt.
“I want to keep on trying to impose my game and use my weapons,” Draper said of his ventures forward. “It’s not easy in these conditions. It’s quite slow tonight, the wind was a bit swirly and obviously playing against Andy, he makes it incredibly awkward for you. It’s something I’m looking to improve with my coach and it’s definitely starting to pay off a little bit more.”
Defence wins the day 💪@jackdraper0 out #Steals one of the best defenders of recent years 👏
Draper #StealScore (23/55) 42%
Murray #StealScore (16/44) 36%
Tour avg. 32%#StealScore calculates how often a player has won the point when they… https://t.co/Fv3anyd26P
— Tennis Insights (@tennis_insights) March 14, 2023
The first of two distinct sets saw 10 break points, with Draper creating seven of them. The Indian Wells debutant made an early statement by powering to a 3-1 lead, but dropped serve to love as he attempted to serve the set out at 5-4. With both men alternating between moments of magic and madness, the set ticked toward a tie-break after consecutive deuce games from 5-5. Draper showed great resilience to fire an ace after gifting Murray a set point and never trailed in a neck-and-neck tie-break.
Set two, by contrast, was dominated by serve, with just two points going to the returner in the first five games. That changed when Draper broke for 4-2, and he escaped 15/40 in the ensuing game before breaking from 40/0 to clinch the win.
The competitors shared an extended embrace at the net post-match, having become good friends despite the 14-year gap in their ages. With the victory, Draper moves within one win of matching his best ATP Masters 1000 result, a quarter-final run in Cincinnati last season.
Photo credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Up 13 places to No. 43 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week, five spots off his career high, he is now guaranteed to finish this week above Murray. Next up for Draper will be top seed Carlos Alcaraz, after the Spaniard defeated Tallon Griekspoor 7-6(4), 6-3.
“Beating Dan and Andy, that’s about as much confidence as I’d need for that match,” he said. “Carlos is another level up, he’s been No 1 in the world, had an exceptional year last year, so it would be amazing to play him again in another real battle.”
The pair met last October in Basel, where Alcaraz came from behind to pull out a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 win.