Sofia | Draper on brink of claiming his maiden title

By reaching the final of the Sofia Open, Jack Draper, at 21 years of age and unseeded, has become the youngest Brion since Andy Murray in 2009, to reach the title round of an ATP tour event.

I have made a couple of semi-finals and came (up) short and especially after the year with the injuries and wanting to be back stronger, I have really achieved that, and my game is in a great place. Jack Draper

And he has done it in style, with some aggressive play throughout a week in which he hasn’t dropped a set and eliminated the top seeded Lorenzo Musetti of Italy 7-5 6-2 in the second round.

On Friday, in the Bulgarian capital, he produced another commanding performance to take out the experienced German, the third seeded Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-4 in 84-minutes, hammering down 10 aces (matched by Struff) and breaking the 33-year-old German three times from four opportunities and dropping just one break himself while fending off eight!

Struff was unable to handle the power of the lefthander, especially the Brit’s serve which he found awkward to contend with as Draper maintained his run to 9 wins at all levels (he won a Challenger event last week) to roll into the Sofia ATP 250 final where he hopes to pick up the first title of his career.

Commenting on his win, Draper said: “He is a player who has had an incredible year, won a lot of matches. I had to really dig deep today, and I am proud of my performance.

“I have made a couple of semi-finals and came (up) short and especially after the year with the injuries and wanting to be back stronger, I have really achieved that, and my game is in a great place.”

So far Draper has shown great potential but has been hampered by injuries and has only just returned a fortnight ago, to the tour, having not played since the US Open where he aggravated a shoulder injury having previously reached the semi-finals at Eastbourne last year and Adelaide last January.

His current run may well have earned him the second spot in Team GB’s Davis Cup team at the end of the month. Already selected in the squad and with Dan Evans withdrawing injured during Vienna and Murray’s form questionable, he could well be playing a strong part in the team’s meeting with Novak Djokovic’s Serbia!

Meanwhile the 35-year-old Frenchman, Adrian Mannarino, world ranked 25, the event’s second seed, hasn’t had an easy passage to the final, dropping a set in the quarters and coming through a tight 85-minute semi against Russia’s unseeded Pavel Kotov, 6-2 7-6(2) for a chance to pick up his third title of the season, and fifth of his career.


Adrian Mannarino aiming to collect his third title of the season

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)




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