Jack Draper fell just short of a major scalp in a second-round loss to Andrey Rublev at the Madrid Open.
The 20-year-old is on the verge of becoming the next British player to break into the top 100 and he again showed his huge potential against sixth seed Rublev, who defeated Novak Djokovic in his home city of Belgrade to win his last tournament.
Draper overpowered his Russian opponent in the opening set and led 3-0 in the third but Rublev fought back to claim a 2-6 6-4 7-5 victory.
Epic stuff! 🔥🔥🔥
— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) May 3, 2022
The Londoner said: “I’m gutted obviously that I couldn’t sustain my level and come through the match but, at the same time, this week’s a new experience for me, being on the clay in a top event like this and playing a top-10 player.
“I surprised myself a little bit that I can play a very high level on the clay. It’s just a bit more physical and, when playing top-10 players or playing guys at this level, it’s about sustaining mentally every point, every point.
“A good experience for me. Obviously I want to do well and win, but I’ve got to take the positives from that. I still feel like there is such a long way to go in all areas for me, which is really exciting.”
Draper knocked out top-30 player Lorenzo Sonego in the opening round in his first tour-level match on clay and he used his big left-handed serve and forehand to shock Rublev in the early stages.
The young Briton, who took a set off Djokovic at Wimbledon last year, also possesses a fine drop shot and is comfortable at the net, and he battled back from a break down in the second before Rublev moved ahead again.
Draper looked like he might find a way to win when he took the first three games of the decider but, with cramp starting to kick in, it was Rublev who eventually found a way through.