At the US Open, Jack Draper became the first British man in 16 years to advance to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament, while Dan Evans lost in a thrilling match to No. 1 seed Carlos Alcaraz.
Draper, 21, showed he was unfazed by an injury he sustained before the competition by defeating American Michael Mmoh 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Evans, 33, faced defending champion Alcaraz head-on in New York, but ultimately lost in four sets (6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3).
Cameron Norrie and Katie Boulter, the top two British players, also lost later on Saturday, leaving just Draper in the singles competition.
Norrie, the No. 16 seed, lost in the third round to the young Italian Matteo Arnaldi, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, setting up a match between Alcaraz and himself in the fourth round.
Boulter, like Draper, was hoping for a deep run at a major, but she was defeated by Peyton Stearns of the United States, who is ranked 59 in the world, 6-4, 6-3.
Draper, who has lost only one set all week, will face the eighth seed in the draw, the Russian Andrey Rublev.
After a challenging year, the match was a long one for me to win. He exclaimed, “I’m so happy,” after dispatching the wild card Mmoh.
Draper is finally healthy again
Draper, a lefty, has always been recognized as a top player thanks to his powerful serve and sizzling forehand.
He was one of the most rapid risers on the ATP Tour in the prior six months, and he finally made it to his career-high 38th position in the beginning of this year.
The streak of spectacular triumphs that propelled him from outside the world’s top 250 to inside it included wins against top-10 players Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Draper’s progress, however, has been impeded by a number of physical issues, resulting in a year that has been “mentally challenging” for him.
His last injury, a slight muscle rupture in his shoulder at the French Open, kept him out of Wimbledon and from playing competitively again until just last month.
There was concern that he would miss the US Open because of a similar issue he picked up in the recent Winston-Salem Open.
Draper, though, has been resolved to put the matter to rest, and his performance against Mmoh, ranked 89th, demonstrated his growing resolve.
“To come here this week and play the way I have, to compete the way I have, and for my body to hold up, has been pretty special,” said Draper, who won a four-set match for the first time in his career.
I felt good with my performance. I’m not sure I played my greatest tennis, but I guess that’s the whole point of tennis: attempting to win even when you’re not at your best.
Evans performs well despite losing to Alcaraz
Evans has had a bizarre season, having had trouble winning prior to and after taking home his biggest title to date in Washington, DC, just a few weeks ago.
Alcaraz is a two-time Grand Slam champion and a formidable opponent, so Evans knew he would need to be at his best if he was to shock the odds against him.
Evans did well to challenge the 20-year-old Spaniard, as the resulting match featured excellent tennis played at a high level with incredible rallies and thrilling points.
The British number two, however, paid the ultimate price for his sluggish start.
After taking an early 2-0 lead in the second set, he dropped the next five games and the set after suffering a double break deficit in the first game of the game.
Evans’ chances of winning were bleak at that moment, but he stuck to his game plan and broke for 4-3 to force a tiebreaker.
The fact that Alcaraz got frustrated enough to toss his racquet into his bag at the end of the set reflects well on the British player’s skill level.
Alcaraz managed to break serve with a stunning running forehand down the line in a tense fourth set thanks to his brilliance.
When asked about his feelings following the courageous loss, Evans said, “frustration and annoyance.” He earned a standing ovation from the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.
To stay and pick up the pieces was my main objective. I would have come forward if given the chance, but I already knew I would be fleeing. ‘I think I did alright,’ he reflected.
“It’s still challenging, but my tennis is in a good place, and that’s what matters most right now.”
Both Norrie and Boulter appear to be upset.
After beating an off-form Norrie, Alcaraz will face 22-year-old Arnaldi in the next round of the US Open.
After cruising through the first two rounds, the British men’s number one, who was seeded 16th, saw his performance drop again.
Norrie, who is now 28 years old, claimed, “I think I was actually playing well, I started well in the tournament, I was hitting the ball really well all week.”
I couldn’t party with them since my tolerance for alcohol was too low. He was quite deft and was able to prevail in many tense situations. A+ for effort.
Boulter, 27, battled on serve throughout, and Stearns, a powerful opponent, was able to convert three of her 12 break point opportunities.
Boulter called Stearns’s strong forehand “one of the best” on tour, and in 1 hour and 37 minutes, the American clinched the match with a thunderous winner.
Boulter, who has improved his global rating to 61 this season, said, “It was tough losing but ultimately I have to be happy with where I’m at, I’m at a career-high ranking.”
However, that hasn’t stopped me from wanting more. In the end, this is my chance to move forward.