Draper beats defending champion Alcaraz at Queen’s

Jack Draper says winning his first ATP title set him "free" of negativity and led to his stunning victory over Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz at Queen's.

New British men's number one Draper, 22, earned a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 victory over defending champion Alcaraz in the second round.

Spain's Alcaraz, 21, saved three match points at 5-2 before Draper served out from 0-30 to the delight of an ecstatic home crowd.

It continued a memorable week for Draper after he claimed the first ATP title of his career at the Stuttgart Open on Sunday.

On Monday, he was confirmed as his nation's leading player on the men's tour.

"There was such a bee in my bonnet about winning an ATP event," said Draper, who lost finals in Sofia and Adelaide before triumphing in Stuttgart.

"To get the title last week set me free of negative emotions and a lot of the pressure I've been putting on myself."

Beating world number two Alcaraz - who claimed the French Open earlier this month - is the biggest win of Draper's career by ranking.

He also ended three-time Grand Slam champion Alcaraz's streak of 13 straight wins on grass.

"Coming to Queen's for a home tournament, being British number one, you would think would put more stress on my shoulders - but it is the opposite," added Draper.

"I feel calm and relaxed because I know I'm doing the right things. I trust in my tennis and know I'm going to be tough to beat."

Draper, who extended his winning run to seven matches, will play American fifth seed Tommy Paul in the quarter-finals on Friday.

'Draper passes the Alcaraz test which he relished'

This match-up was a tantalising prospect which instantly caught the eye when the draw was made at the weekend.

The Wimbledon champion versus Britain's most promising hope.

Draper has made great strides over the past year, since coming back from the shoulder injury which ruled him out of the entire British grass-court swing last year.

Facing Alcaraz was a test of his progress – and he passed with flying colours.

Draper’s work in recent months to be more aggressive with his explosive game, and dominating his opponent in the rallies, was seen in a confident display.

His mentality was equally impressive. Draper looked composed and focused throughout, rising to an occasion that he relished without overexcitement compromising his execution.

"You have to go out there and honestly believe you can win the match - that’s what I did," he said.

After sealing victory, Draper initially remained cool as he shook hands with Alcaraz but released his emotion seconds later with a huge leap into the air.

The passionate reaction of the Queen's crowd showed their elation at seeing another British star emerge.

Draper's development has been timely given the void which is set to be created by Andy Murray's impending retirement.

Even Murray, who is set to retire from the sport later this year aged 37, has stoked the excitement by backing Draper to go "right to the top" of the sport.

"The more times you come through these tough moments, against great players like Carlos, the more you start to believe you can do things that you thought were impossible," Draper added.

"The more times I come through these matches, the more I believe I can go to the top."

How Draper has emerged as Britain's leading man

With every significant step he takes in his career, interest in Draper continues to grow.

The left-handed Londoner has been well known in British tennis circles for a long time, through strong family connections and his eye-catching talent.

Draper's mother Nicky - who the player credits as one of his biggest influences - is a coach and former junior champion, while father Roger was the chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association.

Draper first caught the attention of a wider British public with a run to the Wimbledon junior final in 2018.

After turning professional, he earned notable tour wins over top-10 opponents and took a set off Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2021.

But Draper's progress was regularly hampered by fitness issues and retirements from matches.

Now, having dropped out of the top 100 last year, he is going from strength-to-strength and will be seeded at Wimbledon next month.

"In the last couple of weeks it's starting to come together exactly at the right time when I want it," he said.

"There is no place I'd rather be than here in London, here on the grass, playing in front of a home crowd. It feels amazing."

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