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Paul Dispatches Draper To Reach Queens Club Semis

Jun 22nd 2024

Paul dispatches Draper 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to reach Queens Club semis

It was righty vs lefty and Yankee vs Brit in the quarters at the Cinch Championships, an ATP 500 event. Jack Draper achieved three major milestones this month; his first ATP tour title (Stuttgart), the number one ranking in Britain, and a straight sets defeat of the defending champion and world #2, Carlos Alcaraz in the previous round.

The twenty-two-year-old southpaw struggled with a shoulder injury last season, and consequently, his ranking plummeted to 123. After reaching the final in Adelaide earlier this year (l. Lehecka) and securing the trophy in Germany, he has achieved a career-high rank of #31.

Tommy Paul reached a career-high rank of #12 last fall and is currently #13. The New Jersey native entered the match with a 24/10 win/loss record this season and a title at the Dallas Open (d. Giron). Last week at the Libema Open, the twenty-seven-year-old lost in the quarters to eventual finalist Seb Korda.

The number two American and fifth seed at Queens trailed 1-3 in the head-to-head but split the two matches played this season, both on outdoor hard. This was their first tour-level meeting on grass. Draper won the toss and elected to receive.  

Photo credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty

Paul missed 5/8 first serves including a double fault, faced deuce and break point but held while Draper ripped a forehand down the line and held to 15 to level. Paul struck three consecutive winners including two aces and held to love for 2-1.

Draper missed 4/5 first serves, faced double break point, and dumped serve when Paul crushed a crosscourt backhand. The American donated four unforced errors including another double fault and gave back the break. Draper hit his first ace and held to 30 for 3-3 while Paul opened with an ace and closed with a fantastic forehand down the line for 4-3.

The Brit hit another ace but faced a break point and dropped serve when he netted a forehand volley. Paul struck a well-placed serve and crosscourt forehand to reach triple set point and secured it at love when Draper overcooked the forehand return.

Draper served first in the second and with three outstanding winners, held at love. Paul opened with three consecutive winners including two aces and held to 15 to level. Draper whipped a forehand crosscourt and an ace up the tee for another love hold and Paul returned the favor with four consecutive first serves and a love hold.

Draper not to be outdone, rifled two consecutive aces, and held easily to 15 for 3-2 and Paul held to 30 to level. Draper opened the seventh with a double fault yet held to 15 for 4-3. Paul serving with new balls, hit an ace out wide and held to 15 for parity while Draper struck two consecutive forehand winners for 5-4.

The American serving to stay in the set, opened with a mishit smash and despite two deuce and a set point, held for 5-5 following three consecutive errors from his opponent.

Draper opened with an ace out wide and despite missing four consecutive first serves, held for 6-5 with an audacious serve and backhand volley play. Paul serving to level and force the tiebreak gifted three successive unforced errors and the set.

The partisan crowd erupted in applause as their charge forced a deciding set. The Brit served first and held at love with an ace out wide. The American donated his third double fault but held to 30 to level.

Draper hit his seventh ace but struggled thereafter, missing 4/10 first serves including two consecutive double faults. He persevered and held for 2-1 despite receiving a time violation warning and three deuce points.     

Paul missed 4/5 first serves yet held to 15 while Draper made 4/6 first serves and held to 30 for 3-2. The world #13 faced deuce but leveled at 3-3 while the world #31 missed 3/4 first serves including a double fault to concede the game.

Paul opened the eighth with an incredible backhand volley down the line and with two additional winners including his seventh ace, consolidated the break for 5-3 while Draper serving to stay in the match, ripped a forehand down the line and held at love.

Paul confronting expectation, his opponent, and the crowd crushed a forehand crosscourt to reach match point and converted when Draper netted a backhand. The American was clutch when it mattered and buoyed by his stellar defense and exceptional movement especially out of the corners.  

It was an exceedingly well-played and enthralling match with just four points between them. Paul finished with thirty winners to thirteen unforced errors and won 75% of first and 53% of second serve points. He saved 2/4 break points while converting 3/4 and won 19/29 points at net.

Seb Korda world #23 awaits in the penultimate round. The twenty-three-year-old American has excelled on the grass having reached the final at the Libema Open last week (l. de Minaur). En route to the championship match, he defeated Paul in straights.

He defeated former world #8 Karen Khachanov in straights and world #10 Grigor Dimitrov 7-5 in the third. Paul will be on high alert in this all-American semi given Korda’s current form and his 1-4 record head-to-head.