Jack Draper’s big triumph on clay capped an unlikely British hat-trick at the Madrid Open alongside fellow winners Emma Raducanu and Dan Evans… and having taken a set off Novak Djokovic last summer he is now rapidly heading towards the top 100
- Jack Draper blasted his way past world No 27 Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 6-3
- Emma Raducanu dropped just three games in victory over Marta Kostyuk
- Dan Evans beat Federico Delbonis 6-3, 6-4 to join Draper in the second round
Mark the day that Emma Raducanu and Jack Draper both won within hours of each other at a prominent tour event, because it looks like being the first of many.
Aged 19 and 20, the pair of them played on neighbouring show courts at the Madrid Open yesterday, and both enjoyed wins on a surface that has sometimes been a burial ground for British tennis players.
Making it a hat-trick for GB of straight-set progressions was Dan Evans, a more established source of victories in recent years.
Jack Draper celebrates during his win over Lorenzo Sonego on Sunday at the Madrid Open
By now, Raducanu needs no introduction to anyone, but the US Open champion’s 6-2, 6-1 thrashing of Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk extended a run on the brown dirt — five wins from seven matches — that seemed unlikely a few weeks ago.
Draper is a less familiar figure to those outside tennis, but that may not be the case for long as he rapidly heads towards the top 100.
Of the three wins, that of the strapping young lefthander was the most eyecatching. Hitting service speeds of 138 mph, he blasted his way past Italy’s world No 27 Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 6-3.
Twice in the past month Draper has received wildcards into Masters level tournaments, courtesy of his management company owning the Miami and Madrid events, and twice he has justified them by winning his opening match. He now faces a daunting test in world No 8 Andrey Rublev, one of the Russians currently playing with token neutral status.
Emma Raducanu was also victorious among the Brits as she returns to her best form
Like Raducanu, Draper has played precious little on the clay, but that did not stop him overpowering a more experienced opponent with a game that has fast-developing weapons. Last summer he took a set off Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon and had a career-best win over Jannik Sinner at Queen’s, but this was probably an improvement on that.
‘I think it would be the best — maybe on clay it’s more important to show people I can certainly play,’ he said. ‘My best friend back at home said it would be a statement if you get a few wins on this (surface).’
Raducanu was delighted with her win over Kostyuk, which was a sharp reversal of when they met in Romania last October. The scoreline on that day was again 6-2, 6-1, but in the Ukrainian’s favour.
Since then Kostyuk has had to cope with a lot, but it was nonetheless impressive again from Raducanu. The confidence is seeping back into the Kent teenager, and had Kostyuk been more consistent this would qualify as her best win since her triumph in New York. In the third round she will face another Ukrainian, world No 37 Anhelina Kalinina.
Dan Evans will also join Draper in the second round to round off a hat-trick of British victories
‘I feel it was one of those matches where I was so zoned in and focused I actually didn’t know what the score was,’ she said.
‘I was just zoned in on every single point because I knew as soon as I let up, she was just waiting for that moment for me to let off and she’s a fighter. I’ve known her since juniors. She’s been known as a fighter for many years and I just knew I had to be on it if I wanted to get the job done.’
Evans defeated Argentina’s Federico Delbonis 6-3, 6-4 to join Draper in the men’s second round. Andy Murray faces former US Open champion Dominic Thiem in the first round today, with Cam Norrie also in action against Korean qualifier Kwon Soon-woo.