Saturday, June 25, 2022

Andy Murray is teaching me how to be a champion, says rising British tennis star Draper

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“Understanding his habits and the way he lives his life to become a top tennis player definitely gives me a lot of lessons and a lot of confidence that hopefully I can follow the same path.”

The world No. 99 was one of just two British men left to start in Wednesday’s men’s singles draw but by 6.30pm it was down to one, Draper admitting he was being helped by Emil Ruusuvuori, the 23-year-old Finn. No. 1 was “outplayed” in a 6-2 7-6(2) loss.

QUEEN’S CLUB – Jack Draper insists he won’t put his mind to losing in the second round of Queen’s and is learning from Andy Murray how to “live a life” that will make days like this all the rarer.

Draper will drop out of the top 100 due to the loss but will travel to Eastbourne next week and Wimbledon the following week with high hopes of making progress in the rounds.

The 20-year-old was a regular batting partner of former world No. 1 Murray, who withdrew from Queen’s at the last minute with a stomach strain while trying to regain full fitness after two hip surgeries, and Draper said he has his Watching childhood hero up close was very educational.

“I was able to watch him a lot from a young age. I think he was in his prime when I was eight to 14,” Draper said.

“Watching him and just seeing the lessons from his game without even knowing him was great.

“And then of course I had the opportunity to meet with him and get to know him during the latter part of his career.

“I think for a young player like me to have that kind of influence and deal with it on a daily basis – because Andy is a champion – and understand his habits and the way he lives his life to have a top Tennis player definitely gives me a lot of lessons and a lot of confidence that hopefully I can follow the same path.

Draper is being tapped for great things after beating Novak Djokovic on Center Court at Wimbledon last year. An event he says also helped him mentally prepare for life at the top, beating Taylor Fritz in the first round at Monday’s Queen’s , his second career win over a player in the top 20 after he had done the same thing with Jannik Sinner 12 months ago.

Ruusuvuori, who will enter the top 50 for the first time as a result of this result, produced a raw power that left Draper struggling for answers.

“I was like today, ‘that guy hasn’t played a match on center court here,'” added Draper.

“It’s a slightly different experience for the players going from an outside court to a middle court, so obviously he handled it exceptionally well.

“I have to be able to handle that pressure and I didn’t feel like that was a big factor today. I just had the feeling that when it came to tennis, I was just outplayed.

He also said: “I feel like I’m always pretty hard on myself, but I feel like other players might keep it in their heads for a couple of days. I’ll definitely get this over with quickly.

“I’m going to play Eastbourne next week, of course Wimbledon is coming up. I can of course take some positive things from this week by beating a top player in Taylor, but I can also learn some lessons from today that will help me move forward.

Follow i sport on Facebook for more tennis news, interviews and features, or listen Love Tennis Podcast presented by I‘s James Gray on iTunes, Spotify or just search “Love Tennis” wherever you find your podcasts

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