Jack Draper ends his nine-match winning streak after losing the Sofia Open final to Adrian Mannarino… but Brit is in pole position to start next week’s Davis Cup final
Jack Draper has missed out on the chance to become the youngest Briton to win a major ATP Tour title but has almost certainly found himself in the starting lineup for next week’s Davis Cup final.
The 21-year-old from Surrey’s nine-match winning streak came to an end when he was defeated in the final of the Sofia Open, defeated 7-6 2-6 6-3 by the world number 25 , Adrian Mannarino.
However, this late-season surge in form should certainly put him in pole position to clinch the key second place in the singles when GB face Serbia in the Davis Cup quarter-finals on Thursday.
After his victory at the Bergamo Challenger last weekend, Draper did not have the tools to beat compatriot Mannarino, who at the age of 35 is having his best season of his career.
The British number 4 has nevertheless built a strong case to start against the Serbs in Malaga. According to the event’s rules, the highest seeded player will face Novak Djokovic, almost certainly in a losing cause.
Britain’s Jack Draper lost the Sofia Open final 7-6 2-6 6-3 to world number 25 Adrian Mannarino
Draper played well against the crafty flat batting and deceptive serve of Frenchman Mannarino
Draper will rue a few missed opportunities, but will go into the Davis Cup with confidence
Draper, who has missed much of 2023 due to a series of persistent injuries, looks best equipped to take on the opposition number two, likely Laslo Djere, and force a decisive double match, from which Leon Smith’s team marginally would have to be favorites to win, even in Dan Evans’ absence.
“When I left Bergamo it was difficult to come here and back up,” Draper said. ‘ But I think with a lot of matches under my belt and with the way I feel physically, and a big change in my mental state, I feel so motivated to want to work so hard every match for every point and compete . Good.
“I think the time I’ve missed really helps me come to court. I’ve had a very busy three months and I’m quite tired. I’m going back to back because I’m chasing lost time. I still have the Davis Cup to go and that is very important to me.’
Against Mannarino he was broken 2-3 in the decider, after narrowly missing 8-6 in the tiebreak of an opening set dominated by serve.
The languid Frenchman is the most cunning opponent, and with his flat shots and deceptive serve, he is the kind of player who sucks mistakes from anyone who faces him.
He played an excellent match that was always in the balance, and Draper will rue the chance he had at 15-40 in the last game to make the match even closer.
Under Davis Cup rules, the best-seeded British player will face Serbian Novak Djokovic
World number 33 Laslo Djere is likely to be Serbia’s number two for next week’s Davis Cup final