New British No 1 Jack Draper says first ATP title ‘changes my belief system’

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Jack Draper says he has far loftier goals than becoming British No 1 and he will tackle his next challenges with a renewed self-belief as he looks to follow up his breakthrough title run in Stuttgart with more great performances on home soil at Queen’s Club this week.

“It’s a huge honour and it’s a huge privilege, I know, but I hadn’t thought about that at all,” Draper said this week after becoming British No 1 for the first time.

“My goal is to honestly be one of the top players in the world. That’s been what I have wanted. I think by winning a title last week, it kind of helps me to believe more and more, because it’s been tough and I have been close a few times and not quite getting it over the line. I think it really changes my belief system a little bit as well as to what I can achieve.”

Draper had little time to cele­brate the achievement on Sunday as he rushed to catch his flight to ­London for the ATP 500 event at Queen’s Club, which began on Monday. Draper will face Mariano Navone of ­Argentina on Tuesday.

In recent months, Draper has been determined to evolve from a more defensive-minded player into an imposing attacking player but he has maintained a healthy ­perspective through a difficult transitional period. Last month, he lost in the first round of the French Open.

“I don’t want to be losing first round. It angers me. I was really, really upset after the French Open, because like I said, I knew I had been putting in so much hard work, I just wasn’t fully committing to what I knew I had to do. So it was ­important just to let go and to get on the ­training court and really accept that things need to change.”

Draper splays out on the court after beating Matteo Berrettini in the final in StuttgartView image in fullscreen

As the first-round matches began on Monday, the British No 2 ­Cameron Norrie endured a crushing defeat against an excellent Milos Raonic. Norrie ­performed well and held three match points in the final-set tiebreak before losing 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-7 (9) as Raonic fired 47 aces, the highest number a player has hit in an ATP Tour three-set match.

Aryna Sabalenka, meanwhile, has revealed she will not compete at the Olympic Games this year in order to prioritise her health. Sabalenka, who hails from Belarus, was eligible to apply to compete in Paris as a neutral athlete. This month she had a stomach bug during her quarter-final defeat against Mirra Andreeva at the French Open.

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“I prefer to have a little rest to make sure physically and health-wise I’m ready for the hard courts. Especially with all the struggles I’ve been struggling with the last months, I feel I have to take care of my health,” Sabalenka said.

The world No 10 Ons Jabeur said on Monday she will not compete at the Paris Games. The Tunisian cited concerns over how her body would adapt to the clay surface at the tournament.

At the WTA 250 event in Birmingham, the top seed and ­defending champion Jelena Ostapenko lost 6-3, 6-3 against Elisabetta Cocciaretto, of Italy. Fresh off defending her Nottingham Open title, Katie Boulter will play her first-round match against Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine on Tuesday.


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