Draper Shines In A Busy Day For Brits At Madrid

Jack Draper (photo: ATP Tour video)

MADRID/WASHINGTON, May 1, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

NextGen ATP rising British star Jack Draper made his Mutua Madrid Open debut in the men’s singles draw a memorable one Sunday afternoon. The 124th-ranked wild card stunned No. 27 Lorenzo Sonego of Italy, 6-4, 6-3, in an hour and 38 minutes on Stadium 3.

Later, fellow Britons Dan Evans and Emma Raducanu joined Draper in the winner’s circle at La Caja Mágica. Each won their matches in straight sets.

It was Draper’s first meeting against Sonego and it represented the second-best win by ranking for him. Also, it was Draper’s first ATP Tour win on clay in his first tour-level clay-court match.

There’s plenty to like about the 20-year-old Draper’s game on all surfaces, and he came in having already won four ATP Challenger Tour titles – three of them in Forli, Italy, and the other in St. Brieuc, France. Earlier this season, Draper also earned his first Masters 1000 victory at the Miami Open.

The British No. 4 Draper, who has won eight of his last 10 matches, won 78 percent (25 of 32) of his first-serve points, hit 22 winners to 26 unforced errors, converted three of six break-point chances and allowed just nine winners from Sonego. He outpointed his opponent 64-53. Next, Draper will play World No. 8 and sixth seed Andrey Rublev of Russia in the second round.

Meanwhile, British No. 2 Evans followed Draper’s triumph and defeated No. 36 Federico Delbonis of Argentina, 6-3, 6-4, in 96 minutes on Stadium 3. The 35th-ranked Evans broke his opponent three times and outpointed Delbonis 66-52 to advance. Last year, Delbonis reached the round of 16 as a qualifier.

“I think all of it was pretty good,” Evans said during a post-match interview in appraising his first-round match. “I played pretty well throughout the match. I served well, I mixed it up well.

“I’ve played well this year on clay. I just haven’t got my head in front really.”

Evans, who is 2-4 on clay this season, will play either No. 43 Jenson Brooksby of the United States or No. 17 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the second round.

• Three-time Madrid quarterfinalist John Isner of the United States and Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic began play on Manolo Santana Stadium in their third career head-to-head meeting. In their only previous meeting on clay, Isner won at Roland Garros last year. In Krajinovic’s Madrid debut last year, he bowed in the first round.

This time, the 25th-ranked Isner fired 30 aces, won 77 percent (41 of 53) of his first-serve points and wrapped up a straight-set victory, 7-6 (8), 6-4, in an hour and 37 minutes. He saved a couple of set points during the first-set tie-break and went on to outpoint No. 49 Krajinovic 74-72. Isner awaits the winner between No. 9 seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain and 71st-ranked South Korean qualifier Soonwoo Kwon.

• The men’s main draw was filled out with seven qualifiers and one lucky loser. Advancing out of the qualifying draw after winning a pair of weekend matches were: Maxime Cressy, Hugo Dellien, David Goffin, Dusan Lajovic, Lorenzo Musetti, Benoit Paire and Soonwoo Kwon. Lucky loser Ugo Humbert replaced No. 11 seed Taylor Fritz, who withdrew a left foot injury. Roberto Bautista Agut moved up to No. 17 seed.

Nadal addresses Wimbledon ban of Russians and Belarusians

During his pre-tournament news conference Sunday afternoon, five-time Madrid champion Rafael Nadal weighed in on Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players.

“I think it’s very unfair of my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues,” the World No. 4 and third-seeded Nadal said. “It’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war. … I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry for them. I wish it was not this way, but at the end of the day we know that this is what we have.

“The government gave a recommendation … they didn’t force them to do it.”

Nadal was also asked about his physical condition, which has shut him down for six weeks since losing the final at Indian Wells in early March after suffering a stress fracture in his left ribs.

“I have improved compared to when I arrived here [in Madrid], but I still have ups and downs, because it’s been a long time. It’s going to be a difficult week,” said the 35-year-old Nadal, who is going after his 37th ATP Masters 1000 singles title. “That’s the reality. We have to be calm; we have to accept that things are going to be far away from perfection, but then onwards, we just have to fight. I’m recovered. I feel good.

“It’s a very tight tournament for me. We will have to take the positives and, perhaps, I will have good moments playing on court. We have to have some patience. We have to be humble day after day to see what happens. I will try to improve every day.”

Nadal, who opened the season 20-1 and won his first three tournaments, will face either Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia or Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan in his first match.

Andreescu’s back in a big way

In just her fourth match following a six-month mental health respite, Canada’s Bianca Andreescu routed World No. 8 and sixth seed Danielle Collins of the United States, 6-1, 6-1, to move into the third round in her Madrid tournament debut.

The 111th-ranked Andreescu needed just 69 minutes to earn her first Top 10 win since defeating Serena Williams in the 2019 US Open final – and first on clay. Sunday’s victory, which improved her career record against Top-10 competition to 9-5, guaranteed her a return to the Top 100 next week.

“I knew I had to put on a very good performance because she’s been doing very well recently,” Andreescu said, quoted by the WTA website. “I did not expect for it to go like that at all. But I stuck to my game plan and it worked.”

Next, Andreescu will face No. 12 seed Jessica Pegula of the United States, who defeated 55th-ranked qualifier Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-3, 6-3, to reach the third round.

Around La Caja Mágica

• Unseeded Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine upset No. 7 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain, 6-3, 6-0, in back of 26 winners and four breaks of the Spaniard’s serve. The 37th-ranked Kalinina, who is making her first appearance in Madrid, saved all six break points she faced and outpointed World No. 9 Muguruza 62-42 during the 81-minute second-round match on Manolo Santanta Stadium. Earlier, she defeated 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the first round Friday.

Muguruza has reached the Madrid third round just once, in 2018, in eight appearances.

• With both World No. 2 Paula Badosa and Muguruza eliminated in the second round, Spain’s highest-ranked women’s player remaining in the draw is No. 47 Sara Sorribes Tormo, who faced former World No. 1 Naomi Osaka of Japan Sunday evening. The emotionally-charged Sorribes Tormo didn’t disappoint Spanish fans who stayed for the night session closer in Manolo Santana Stadium. She scored her second career win over the 36th-ranked Osaka, 6-3, 6-1, in an hour and 28 minutes.

Although Sorribes Tormo only recorded three winners, she also only made three unforced errors by simply keeping the ball in play. The Spaniard broke Osaka’s serve five times in nine opportunities and outpointed the Japanese superstar 65-49. Osaka finished with 23 winners and committed 25 unforced errors.

Next, Sorribes Tormo will play No. 23 Daria Kasatkina of Russia, who upset World No. 5 and fourth seed Maria Sakkari of Greece, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, to earn her second Top 5 victory of 2022.

• No. 9 seed Emma Raducanu of Great Britain reached the third round with a 6-2, 6-1 win over 60th-ranked wild card Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, a longtime rival going back to her junior days. She needed just 64 minutes to advance against Kalinina.

Raducanu, who faced no break points and converted five of 12 against her outmatched opponent, outpointed Kostyuk 62-35 It was the British teenager’s fifth tour-level win on clay in seven matches.

Sunday’s Mutua Madrid Open ATP results

Sunday’s Mutua Madrid Open WTA results 

Monday’s Mutua Madrid Open order of play

By the numbers

“Quotable …”

“I’ve been trying to find my way back, and we were talking the other day about how I hope it doesn’t take too many matches. I was happy I was able to get in that zone again and I found all the tics that helped me in my previous matches. It really helps, even little things like touching the line or hitting your shoes with the racquet, it helps a lot.”

Bianca Andreescu of Canada, during press following her 6-1, 6-1 second-round victory over World No. 8 Danielle Collins Sunday.