Tuesday, April 9

Jack Draper bows out of Queen’s Club with defeat by Emil Ruusuvuori | Tennis

After dismantling the fourth-seeded Taylor Fritz in the opening round of the Queen’s Club Championships and inhabiting his spot in the open top half of the draw Jack Draper entered his second-round match with a realistic opportunity of a deeper run. Instead, he was dealt a valuable lesson in his young career as he was outplayed 6-2, 7-6(2) by the qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori.

In his handful of appearances at the top level of men’s professional tennis the 20-year-old Draper has shown his potential and enjoyed success by brandishing his considerable weapons. But Ruusuvuori, a hard-working Finnish player, demonstrated all of the confidence he gained from the qualifying rounds as he neutralized Draper’s strengths and picked apart his weaknesses from him.

“There’s not many times that I get outplayed,” Draper said. “I felt like today was one of those days. I have played a great match. There’s a few things that tactically maybe I could have done better but I’m a bit lost for words. I don’t really know what I could have done loads and loads better, to be honest.”

From the beginning Ruusuvuori dealt with Draper’s big lefty serve excellently, retrieving a high number of returns and consistently landing them deep. In the rallies he was relentless with his offense from him, standing on top of the baseline and dominating with his forehand. As he controlled the exchanges he exposed Draper’s movement in the process, which has improved but remains a weakness at the highest level. He serve extremely well himself and Draper’s return of serve could not keep up, as Ruusuvuori breezed through the first set with minimal problems.

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Throughout a tough second set Draper fought admirably while under constant pressure in his own service games, finding big serves on important points and even saving a match point at 4-5. But Ruusuvuori’s superior return and movement, plus his dominance of him in the rallies, were reflected in a straightforward tiebreak as he moved through to victory.

For Ruusuvuori – whose player box contained just one person, his coach Federico Ricci, compared to the group LTA staff and family who had come to watch Draper play in his hometown – it is a great win for a player who himself is also young and growing on the tour. The 23‑year‑old will rise to the top 50 next week for the first time.

Despite his disappointment such defeats against capable, more experienced opponents can only be valuable to Draper at this point in his development. “I can take some positives from this week of course, beating a top player in Taylor [Fritz]but I can also take some lessons from today which is going to help me moving forward for sure,” he said.

While his compatriots and peers waited to see if they were awarded Wimbledon wildcards, he already made the cut because of his ranking rise during a breakthrough season that has included four challenger titles and he sits at a career-high ranking of 99. Draper will now head to Eastbourne, where he will play his final tournament before Wimbledon begins.

Only one Briton, the least experienced in the drawing, remains at Queen’s Club. After defeating the top-seeded Casper Ruud to clinch a top five in his first ATP main-draw match, the wildcard Ryan Peniston will face Francisco Cerundolo on Thursday.

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In Birmingham Katie Boulter followed up her solid first-round win over the recent Nottingham finalist, Alison Riske, by reaching the quarter‑finals with a 7-6(5), 6-1 victory against Caroline Garcia of France, who is ranked 74th but was once a top-five player. The win marks the fourth WTA quarter-final in the No 141 Boulter’s career, with three of them coming on grass.

Boulter, a former top 100 player still trying to make her way back there after a major back injury in 2019, will face the toughest opposition possible as she looks for her first WTA semi‑final. She faces the 2019 Wimbledon champion, Simona Halep, who comfortably defeated Great Britain’s Harriet Dart 6-3, 6-2.


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