Three Brits started the day with high hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the Rothesay International but only one survived to keep home hopes alive of a possible first overall victory for a Brit since 2009, when the men first played at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne.
I’m getting more comfortable every week. I learned lessons from Queen’s, and I hope tomorrow I can put on a show. Jack Draper
Twenty-year-old Jack Draper carries that responsibility after beating compatriot Ryan Peniston in the quarter finals following the loss of Cameron Norrie earlier in the day.
The 6-3 6-3 loss suffered by Peniston may have brought to an end his run on the South coast which has not only cemented the 26-year-old’s arrival in the public conscience for the moment, but boosted his confidence for Wimbledon which starts on Monday and he plays courtesy of a wildcard.
Peniston on Thursday, quickly finished off his match with Pedro Martinez of Spain 7-6(8) 3-6 6-3 which had been suspended for bad light on Wednesday with the score in the decider standing at 3-2 in favour of the Brit.
Draper though, proved too powerful for the Essex boy, despite Peniston making early breaks in both sets.
In the first set he broke back immediately and then again to go on and pocket the first set.
In the second it looked like Peniston could force a decider when he took a 3-1 lead but then Draper put together five consecutive games including three breaks, to seal the win for his first appearance in a semi-final at Tour level.
“Ryan is an unbelievable player, a great guy, we train together all the time so there’s no secrets about each other’s games. He’s really good for me,” Draper said on court afterwards.
“To be a part of it [the Brits at Eastbourne] is amazing. Everyone’s on the same wavelength, we want to push each other and hopefully we’ll get more people up the rankings.
“I’m getting more comfortable every week. I learned lessons from Queen’s, and I hope tomorrow I can put on a show.”
Draper faces Maxime Cressy for a place in the final after the American prevented an all-British semi-final and the guaranteed prospect of a British finalist, by beating the British No. 1 and top seeded Cameron Norrie 7-5 7-5.
“He’s a unique player. Anyone who serves and volleys is a tough challenge, but I’m looking forward to it,” Draper added.
Norrie led by a break before Cressy hit back thanks to his attacking style to take the opening set and the help of a net cord on set point.
In the second Norrie failed to convert a break point and a poor service game handed control to his opponent and, while he saved three match points when serving to stay in the match, Cressy slammed the door in the next on his own serve at the first opportunity.
For Cressy, ranked at 60, it will be his second-career Tour semi-final following his third successive defeat of higher-ranked opponent which now includes two Brits in a row. He will certainly like to score a hat-trick when he takes on Draper on Friday.
“The court condition was amazing,” Cressy said following his win over Norrie.
“Thanks to the crowd for making that match so special and bringing an incredible environment. It’s a big win for me. It’s been a tough three months, but I stayed resilient and I knew my time would come. My confidence is coming back and I’m so happy.”
In the bottom half, the defending champion, Australia’s Alex De Minaur defeated Tommy Paul of the US 6-2 4-6 6-4 in what was an intriguing contest played at a very high level.
The Aussie, seeded six, will face another American Taylor Fritz, the third seed who swept past Alexander Bublic who received a warning for bouncing his racket on the grass court resulting in an argument between the Kazak and the umpire!