Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: Jack Draper’s Finally Finding the Consistency

Jack Draper London 2021
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No one needs to be convinced of the fact that Jack Draper is a pretty special tennis player. In the past, the 20-year-old struggled with performing his best in consecutive matches, not really able to build up deep Challenger runs. The Brit put an end to that with a title in Forli this week, while Igor Marcondes grabbed his 2nd title at this level in Blumenau. Read back on this week’s action:

Forli

Jack Draper kicked off his 2022 campaign with a stellar run, finding a steady level throughout. His ceiling has never been the issue (wins over Alexander Bublik, Jannik Sinner, taking a set off Novak Djokovic last year), but the control over his groundstrokes wasn’t really there before. The 20-year-old survived just one scary moment on the way, pulling off a quarterfinal win from a set down against Alexander Ritschard.

In just a third all-Brit final on the Challenger Tour, Draper faced Jay Clarke, who has loopier strokes and usually doesn’t perform well in indoor conditions. After a couple of uneven performances in the opening two rounds, the 23-year-old managed to get through another one of his compatriots, Paul Jubb, and frustrated Adrian Andreev with his backhand slice in the semifinals. Despite the power advantage, that shot possibly gave him sort of a gameplan for the championship match.

Yet it was all to no avail as even though Clarke broke the youngster twice in the opening set, Draper completely outplayed his compatriot in just 74 minutes. The 20-year-old’s forehand was both powerful and precise and it left his opponent pretty much without any way to respond. Draper took his maiden Challenger title 6-3 6-0 and made his way to the 213th position in the ATP Rankings. Both players are featured in the draw for the next event in Forli, the youngster receiving a special exempt.

Blumenau

Igor Marcondes claimed his maiden Challenger title at Florianopolis in December and was able to pick up right where he left off with another great run at home. The Brazilian had to survive a thriller against Nicolas Moreno de Alboran in the quarterfinals, saving a match point before eventually triumphing in over three hours and thirty minutes. Marcondes took out Genaro Alberto Olivieri 7-5 6-3 to advance to his second final at this level.

Juan Bautista Torres showed some early signs of a potential breakout late in 2021, winning ITF 15K titles at Cordoba and Cairo. The 19-year-old grabbed his first Challenger main draw in Buenos Aires this year, before going on a wonderful run in Blumenau. The Argentinian eliminated the second seed, Orlando Luz, in his opening match and scored the most impressive victory of his career by taking out Facundo Diaz Acosta in the quarterfinals.

Torres led 6-3 3-1, using his great court coverage to grind down the Brazilian and seeking more powerful forehands whenever possible. The Brazilian managed to fight back and faced with adversity, the Argentinian faded away. The home crowd certainly made it a bit tougher for Torres, cheering on his double faults and simple errors. And as the match progressed, these began to happen more and more. Marcondes took a forgettable deciding set 6-1, winning his 2nd Challenger title in a little over a month.

The Brazilian will jump up to World No. 274 in the ATP Rankings. The champion has withdrawn from Concepcion next week, while Torres’s scheduling remains unknown.

Challenger Tour magic:

Events held next week:

  • Internazionali di Tennis Citta di Forli 3 (Challenger 80, indoor hard)
  • Dove+Men Care Legion Sudamericana (Concepcion, Challenger 80, clay)

With most of the world’s elite playing at the Australian Open, there will be no top 100 players in action this week.

First-round matches to watch:

Forli

  • Andrea Arnaboldi vs (7) Daniel Masur
  • Prajnesh Gunneswaran vs (2) Quentin Halys

Concepcion

  • Pedro Sakamoto vs (5) Renzo Olivo

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