Jack Draper battled for two-hours and 41-minutes but just couldn’t prevent Maxime Cressy from securing his third consecutive win over a Briton to make the final of the Rothesay International at Eastbourne.
Three matches in a row (against British players), it’s getting tough! Hopefully you guys (turning to the crowd) are for me tomorrow Maxime Cressy
In what proved to be a tight contest, the semi-final was a bit of a roller coaster with just one break of serve proving enough for the serve and volleying American to edge through 7-7(5) 6-7(2) 6-3.
The French-born American, who defeated Britain’s top two players Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans in the previous rounds, will face his countryman, the 2019 winner Taylor Fritz who overcame the reigning champion from Australia, Alex de Minaur 6-1 6-7(5) 6-3 in the other semi-final.
Disappointment for the 20-yearold Draper who was making his debut at Eastbourne and was bidding to become the first Briton to reach the final at Devonshire Park since 2009, the year the men first started to compete there.
Backed by a partisan crowd in the afternoon sunshine, the Surrey youngster acquitted himself well against an opponent deploying an aggressive attacking game unlike the one he has been used to playing against, namely a powerful serve backed up with some very potent and effective volleying.
But there wasn’t much to separate them as they fought for control and shared the first two sets without conceding a serve with Draper very much in contention throughout, saving four break points in the opening set and then failing to convert one of his own in the 10th game of the second which would have given him the set. As it turned out, he then secured it in the second tie-break of the match.
In the decider the tug-of-war continued and it was the 25-year-old from Los Angeles who eventually got the crucial and deciding break to go 4-2 up resulting in Draper releasing his frustration by smashing a ball into crowd and while he fought hard to level, Cressy was able to continue to press to nearly gain a second break before claiming the victory when Draper failed to convert three break back points as he served for the match.
Asked how he felt after that marathon, Cressy replied: “It’s a roller coaster, I don’t know, it’s hard to describe the feeling.
“I feel a lot of relief from that game, but I’m incredibly happy and thrilled to be in the final.
“Three matches in a row (against British players), it’s getting tough! Hopefully you guys (turning to the crowd) are for me tomorrow.
“Sorry guys, I apologise for this week, I know I made all the Britons lose but thank you for a fantastic atmosphere here and nevertheless I’m very grateful for you guys.”
It was the first time Draper was forced to play all three sets after he wrapped up his previous three matches on route to the final in straight sets.
For Cressy the final will be his second on the Tour, but his first on grass and further success over his compatriot, the third seeded Fritz, could lift him into the top 50 of the world rankings from his current position of 63.
Despite defeat, Draper’s efforts in Eastbourne mark a career-best week for the British No.4 which should see him begin his Wimbledon fortnight ranked back inside the World’s Top 100 having slipped to 108 in the past week.