Draper’s 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over the Canadian on Wednesday night further strengthens his commanding lead in fifth place at the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan as he moves closer to making his debut appearance Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals from November 8th to 12th.
The result also packs a punch in 2021 US Open semi-finalist Auger-Aliassime’s quest to make his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals. The 22-year-old is sixth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and has had the opportunity to put some distance on rivals including Andrei Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz, with a deep run at Flushing Meadows. Now he runs the risk of last year’s Turin qualifiers overtaking him in the race these two weeks.
“Obviously Felix is an incredibly tough opponent, that’s why he’s at the top of the game,” Draper said. “I played a really good match today, a special occasion out here.”
Despite the Brit hitting less than half of his first serves, the Brit’s heavy delivery worried Felix as he came into play; The Brit won 36/43 first serve points. The 20-year-old showed great variety from the baseline, including two backhand passes to break Felix’s serve in sets two and three. The Canadian No. 1 saw just three break points – and all while Draper served for the opening set – but failed to convert. Felix also struggled to find consistency during extended rallies, finishing with 41 unforced errors.
Left-handed Draper, 9-2 in his last 11 games, climbs up to No. 46 in the Pepperstone ATP Live rankings, a huge improvement from 12 months ago when the youngster was No. 272.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the past few years. I was unlucky with injuries when I was young, I grew very quickly. I’ve always had the tennis skills, it was about staying fit and staying on the court.”
Draper joins countrymen Cameron Norrie and Andy Murray in the third round at Flushing Meadows. Daniel Evans will aim to become the fourth Brit in the third round if he meets Australians James Duckworth Thursday.