Jack Draper’s bid to reach his first quarter final at Grand Slam level ended in the last 16 after two-hours and 45-minutes, with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 loss to the eighth seeded Andrey Rublev.
My tennis is right there. I've barely played in the last couple of months and I've come here, made the fourth round and pushed a top-10 player, If I just can get things right, still be being able to compete and train, I think I can go all the way in this sport Jack Draper
The 21-year-old from Sutton pushed the Russian hard in the humid conditions under the roof of the Louis Armstrong Stadium (rain threatened) and at the end of his fourth-round match, declared he believed he could go all the way in the future.
“It’s not my tennis holding me back, it’s my physicality and staying on court consistently,” he said following his loss.
“Once I do that I think I will prove to myself that I will be able to be one of the best players in the world.”
Draper came into the championships having retired from the Winston-Salem Open the previous week with a shoulder strain but that was never evident during his four matches at Flushing Meadows, but he did fade in the fourth set against Rublev.
On reaching the last 16, he had achieved more than any of his compatriots to become the last Brit standing as he continues to fulfil all expectations as the nation’s brightest prospect.
“My tennis is right there. I’ve barely played in the last couple of months and I’ve come here, made the fourth round and pushed a top-10 player,” he added.
“If I just can get things right, still be being able to compete and train, I think I can go all the way in this sport.”
Draper’s ranking plummeted after missing almost three months of the season – including Wimbledon – with a tear in his left shoulder resulting in a big ranking drop from 38 to 123 but his US Open run should lift him back into the top 100 and set him on his way back into the top 20 in due course!
But keeping fit remains his problem as he has already suffered a series of injuries over the last few years.
“I gave it all mentally but I was pretty drained honestly,” he continued.
“You are playing against a guy who is tough to get the ball past. It is physically quite gruelling.”
Having only played two matches on the ATP Tour since tearing a shoulder muscle at the French Open in May, it was perhaps unsurprising he faded physically after falling two-sets-to-one down.
Draper’s second serve came under increasing pressure and his service speed dropped as he was broken in the fifth game of the fourth set whilst a double fault handed Rublev his first match point.
The Russian was unable to convert that one and two more when he was serving out finally securing his place in the last right with his fourth, letting out an almighty roar as he released the tension he had been under playing the young Brit who he has now beaten in their three meetings.
“From the first point I was feeling the ball really well and I thought Jack was playing well,” Rublev said on reaching his fourth US Open quarter final.
“But I was able to break him and I kept thinking that even if I was losing I would make the match physical because Jack is coming back from injury.
“You could see in the fourth set he was tired and not able to play the same way.
“I was able to add extra speed and finish the match.”
Rublev, 25, goes on to face his compatriot Daniil Medvedev (3) who brought the Australian 13th seed Alex de Minaur’s run to an end after two-hours, 40-minutes, 2-6 6-4 6-1 6-2.
Medvedev had lost his last two matches against De Minaur so he was happy to not only avenge those defeats, but also extend his record against the Australian to 5-2.
“The conditions were some of the most brutal we’ve ever played,” Medvedev said later on court. “There was one moment where I thought I’m not going to be able to play until the end,
it’s so tough. But I looked across the net and noticed he was slowing down too, so I thought okay, I can do this. Then I managed to serve much better and it changed the match.”
For Medvedev, the 2021 US Open champion, it will be his fourth quarter final at Flushing Meadows and second of the season in Slam play.
Meanwhile Carlos Alcaraz continues his defence of the US Open title he won last year as he surged past Italy’s Matteo Arnaldi 6-3 6-3 6-4 under the roof of the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 20-year-old Spaniard has now won his last 11 matches at Flushing Meadows and as Wimbledon champion, is on a winning 11-match streak at Grand Slam level!
Alcaraz has lost just one set at these championships to date and on this occasion, delivered 31 winners to take out his Italian 22-year-old opponent in one-hour,57-minutes.
After his win, Alcaraz declared himself happy with his win and the intensity he had brought to the court. “I played a really solid match, less mistakes,” he said.
He takes on Alexander Zverev (12) next after the German outlasted over four hours and 41-minutes, Italy’s Jannik Sinner 6-4 3-6 6-2 4-6 6-3 in a match that ended at 1.39 am on Tuesday morning!
Both players showed signs of fatigue as they battled for that quarter final place, with Sinner starting to cramp in the middle of the match though he recovered in the fourth as Zverev faded!
However, Zverev was able to pick himself up in the fifth breaking early and holding out for a hard-earned victory.
“I guess I’m back,” said Zverev who had suffered a career threatening ankle injury last year, “This is one of the best moments of my career,”