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Jack Draper has been hailed as the “future of British tennis” before he bids for the biggest payday of his career at the UTS Grand Final in London next month. But first the British No.4 is two wins away from his first ATP Tour title at the Sofia Open this week.
The big left-hander will join fellow wildcard Holger “The Viking” Rune, Andrey “Rublo” Rublev, Casper “The Iceman” Ruud and Gael “La Monf” Monfils in the T20-style exhibition event to be held at the ExCel Arena. Invented by super coach Patrick Mouratoglou, UTS tennis sees quicker matches played in four eight-minute quarters in front of raucous crowds. And Draper, 21, wants fans to pick him nickname for the event.
The Davis Cup star reached the fourth round of the US Open in September and has banked $684,337 (£557,057) so far this season – and $1,769,400 in his career. Winning all five of his matches in London from December 15-17 will see him earn $922,000 (£750,491). Draper shares the same star quality as his contemporary Emma Raducanu – and has also seen his early career stalled by injuries – but Mouratoglou insisted he is also destined for the top.
“We’re excited to have Jack involved,” said Serena Williams’ former coach. “We really wanted to have a British player and I’m excited that it’s Jack because he’s the future of British tennis and he is probably the young player who has the biggest potential for the future. He has a huge potential. He has a big game, he has shown this year that he’s on the way to the top of the game, to the top 10 and then we’ll see – everything is open.”
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Draper said: “Competing on home soil against some of the best players in the world, will be a special experience for me. The UTS is fun, disruptive, and I can’t wait to get on court! Let me know what you think my nickname should be!”
Playing his first ATP event since New York, the world No.82 reached the semi-finals in Bulgaria by beating Turkey’s Cem Ilken 6-2 6-2. He will next face German Jan-Lennard Struff as he bids to reach his first ATP final and claim the first prize of £74,303. “It will be two big hitters playing so hopefully it will be a good match,” Draper said.
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Top seed Novak Djokovic will be top seed in the Green Group at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin next week with Jannik Sinner, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Holger Rune. The Serb needs one win to guarantee ending the year as world No.1 – and he is seeking to break his tie with Roger Federer and claim the season-ending event for a record seventh time.
Second seed Carlos Alcaraz heads the Red Group with Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev.In the doubles event, No.2 seeds Neal Skupski and Wesley Koolhof are in the Red Group along with defending champions Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram. At the Billie Jean King Cup finals in Seville, Italy beat Germany 3-0 to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2014.
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