Jack Draper ends his nine-match winning streak after losing Sofia Open final to Adrian Mannarino… but Brit is in pole position to start at next week’s Davis Cup finals
Jack Draper missed out on the chance to become the youngest Brit to win a main ATP Tour title, but has almost certainly played his way into the starting line-up at next week’s Davis Cup finals.
The nine-match winning streak of the 21 year-old from Surrey came to an end when he was beaten in the final of the Sofia Open, outfoxed 7-6 2-6 6-3 by world number 25 Adrian Mannarino.
This late season surge of form, however, must surely put him in pole position to take the key second singles berth when GB face Serbia in the Davis Cup quarter-finals a week on Thursday.
Following on from his win at the Bergamo Challenger last weekend, Draper did not have quite the resources to see off fellow southpaw Mannarino, who at 35 has had his career-best season.
The British number four has nonetheless built a strong case to start against the Serbs in Malaga. Under the event’s rules the highest ranked player will have to be face Novak Djokovic, almost certainly in a losing cause.
Britain’s Jack Draper lost the Sofia Open final 7-6 2-6 6-3 to world No. 25 Adrian Mannarino
Draper played well against Frenchman Mannarino’s crafty flat hitting and deceptive serve
Draper will be rueing a few missed chances, but will be confident heading into the Davis Cup
Draper, who has missed much of 2023 with a series of persistent injuries, looks the best-equipped to tackle the opposition number two, probably Laslo Djere, to force a deciding doubles rubber which Leon Smith’s team should be marginal favourites to win, even in the absence of Dan Evans.
‘Coming off Bergamo it was difficult to come here and back it up,’ said Draper. ‘ But I think with the with lots of matches under my belt and with the way I’ve been feeling physically, and a big shift in my mental state, I feel so motivated to want to work so hard every match for every point and compete well.
‘I think with the time I’ve missed that really helps me coming on to the court. I’ve had a really busy three months and I’m pretty tired. I’ve been going back to back to back because I’ve been chasing the lost time.
I’ve still got Davis Cup to go and that is really important for me.’ Against Mannarino he was broken at 2-3 in the decider, having narrowly missed out 8-6 in the tiebreak of an opening set which was dominated by serve.
The languid Frenchman is the craftiest of opponents, and with his flat hitting and deceptive serve is the kind of player who sucks mistakes from anyone ranged against him. He played an excellent match which was always in the balance, and Draper will rue the chance he had at 15-40 in the final game to make it even closer.
World No.33 Laslo Djere will likely be Serbia’s number two for next weeks Davis Cup finals
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