'I Want To Be In The Top 20': Draper Lists Ranking Goal For 2024 Season

'I Want To Be In The Top 20': Draper Lists Ranking Goal For 2024 Season

by Nurein Ahmed

Jack Draper is not a player who gets too far ahead of himself, but he is ambitious and wants to finish in the Top 20 places next season.

Draper has had a rollercoaster year, to say the least. There have been spasmodic flashes of brilliance, but at the same time, his body dictated his season. The 21-year-old missed vast stretches of 2023 battling injuries and missed a combined six months of the season.

In January, Draper picked up a leg injury in a four-set defeat to Rafael Nadal in the first round of the Australian Open. That sent him to the treatment room for nearly two months before he returned to the courts in the second week of March.

But Draper wasn't over the hump and sadly had to retire in the fourth round of Indian Wells due to an abdominal tear. The injury came just a day after he defeated his childhood idol Andy Murray at the tournament. It took him nearly a month before he returned to action on the clay.

There, he didn't play the entire swing, missing a month between Monte Carlo and Lyon and succumbing to a second retirement at Roland Garros due to a tendon strain in his upper arm. Draper left the tournament "mentally destroyed" and reflecting on his injury record during an interview with Tennis Majors, he was worried.

"After being out for a while, I was worried about my ranking and having to drop down to possibly play Challengers again. But then, making the run to the fourth round of the US Open, then winning Bergamo and making the final in Sofia has put me in a really good place looking ahead to next year."

Draper certainly hit the jackpot when he returned to the tour after nearly two and a half months. He reached the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time at this year's US Open, earning a stunning straight-sets win over Hubert Hurkacz at the tournament.

He took that wave of momentum to the Davis Cup where Great Britain qualified for the Final 8 by the skin of their teeth. He resorted to playing the Challenger tour for a number of weeks, and he was handsomely rewarded - winning the title in Bergamo and finishing runner-up in Orleans.

Last week, he reached his first ATP final in Sofia but was beaten by the experienced and in-form Adrian Mannarino in three entertaining sets. Draper is of the notion that criticism of his injuries is unwarranted, as he's been working tirelessly to improve his physical side.

"I actually think it’s been an amazing year. I know a lot of people might criticise me and say that physically I’m not there or criticise the number of injuries I’ve had. But I am working hard every day, not just on the tennis but on the physical side as well."

"When I injured my shoulder, for example, it was a freak injury I suffered when serving in a match – I had no control over that injury."

The Sutton southpaw wants to break the world's Top 20 next season. He doesn't particularly hold any big goals in 2024 and tends to take things gradually. His principal aim remains to stay healthy for the entire season, something he's not been able to do since he turned pro.

"Not really (on specific goals). I’m going to take it more week by week. But I think with the ranking, I do have the target that I want to be in the top 20 by the end of the year. That’s the goal. Other than that, it’s about working hard, staying fit and getting to more finals."


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