Katie Boulter and Jack Draper earn big wins to reach third round of US Open
HomeHome > Blog > Katie Boulter and Jack Draper earn big wins to reach third round of US Open

Katie Boulter and Jack Draper earn big wins to reach third round of US Open

Aug 31, 2023

So far in Jack Draper’s young career, since his very first ATP appearance, much of his progress has been dictated by his injuries. Whenever he has had the opportunity to step up with a clean bill of health, though, he has performed.

He did so again on Thursday afternoon as, soon into his return to competition after a shoulder injury derailed his summer, Draper pulled off a big win by dismantling Hubert Hurkacz, the 17th seed, 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 to return to the third round of the US Open.

Moments after Draper’s victory, his British compatriot Katie Boulter trod her own path into the third round by recovering from a set down to overcome the in-form Wang Yafan, a qualifier, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in an intense, high-quality scrap. In her first US Open as a direct entrant to the main draw, this is the first time Boulter has reached the third round of any grand slam tournament outside Wimbledon.

Until the past few weeks, Draper had barely competed this year because of hip and abdominal problems, before struggling with his shoulder in Paris as he retired in the first round of the French Open. What he thought would be a minor setback before the grass-court season ended up costing him another three months between May and August and he has fallen out of the top 100 to his current ranking of No 123. Draper has not yet completed a grand slam tournament healthy this year.

Over the past two years, though, Draper has shown that he is capable of quickly finding his best tennis even when his preparation is stunted. After feeling his shoulder 10 days ago in Winston-Salem and then retiring from his first match, Draper has opted to veer on the side of caution by taking some pace off his enormous lefty serve.

It is testament to his wicked lefty serve that it is still incredibly effective. He hit his spots extremely well in all of the decisive moments. Draper’s performance was particularly a reflection of his impressive all-around abilities. He returned extremely well, he dictated from on top of the baseline and he moved confidently to the net during important points.

While Draper stepped up, Hurkacz was clearly not himself. The Pole played with low energy, he spent many of his changeovers with his face pitifully buried in his towel. Midway through the third set, Hurkacz called for the trainer. After being the struggling player in so many matches in his career, this time he took full advantage of his ailing opponent and closed out the match in straight sets.

Despite her status as a qualifier, Wang had arrived on court five against Boulter as one of the most in-form players around. A former top-50 player, Wang had struggled during the first years of Covid-19 as a Chinese player forced to base herself away from home in order to compete on the tour. She opted to take seven months off, falling as low as 696 before her return. Since resuming her career, Wang has shot up the rankings, winning compiling a 37-3 record before Thursday.

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It is evident that Boulter is growing in confidence and tenacity as, in the deep end of such a tight match against a battle-hardened opponent, she trusted her weapons and played fearless attacking tennis in the decisive moments as she sealed another of the most important wins of her career.

Boulter will rise to a career high of about No 50 in the WTA rankings, depending on how other players around her fare over the next nine days. She has offered herself an enormous opportunity to advance even further, as she faces Peyton Stearns of the United States, a 21-year-old American ranked just two places above her at No 61, with a maiden grand slam fourth round berth on the line.

Jodie Burrage’s US Open came to an end, though, as the 24-year-old from Kingston-upon-Thames was defeated 6-3, 6-2 by Aryna Sabalenka, the Belarusian second seed and one of the tournament favourites.

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