JACK Draper had Center Court on his feet by taking a set against Novak Djokovic before the defending champion fought back to reach the second round.
Draper’s mother, 19, Nicki was educated in Dorchester at Casterbridge Girls’ School and grew up in Dorset before taking her first job in Portsmouth.
Surrey-born Draper has long been seen as a star of the future and he showed why on his Wimbledon debut, capturing his big moment and unsettling Djokovic with his powerful game.
Draper received a standing ovation from the 50% crowd when he won the first set, making him the first player to beat Djokovic in the first round at SW19 for 11 years, but the Serb took control early in the second. and eventually relaxed to a 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 win.
Tickets were sold online this year rather than through the usual ballot and the center court certainly had a different, more vibrant atmosphere that was amplified by the closed roof.
The day began with a standing ovation for guests at the Royal Box who had helped Britain’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, including Dame Sarah Gilbert, the architect of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.
Djokovic had not played a grass singles match since his spectacular five-set victory over Roger Federer in the 2019 final, while Draper announced his talent to the UK mainstream with his first two tour-level wins. at the Queen’s Club.
It took a while for Djokovic to regain his feet to the surface – literally the world number one fell onto the turf twice in the first set and threw frustrated glances at his box.
One of those falls came at a breaking point in Draper’s first service match and in the following match the young British prospect enjoyed a break from serve.
He saved seven break points in total to win the opening set, using his excellent backhand to tie Djokovic from the baseline and find his big serve when he needed it.
But the Serbian, who hasn’t lost at the All England Club since 2017, wasted no time in scoring his authority in the second set, taking a 3-0 lead as he began to coach Draper on the pitch. .
The teenager, who was only playing his fifth game at tour level, had his moments in the last three sets, but struggled to make an impression on Djokovic’s serve – the Serbian hit 24 aces in all – and the seed, who bids for a 20th Grand Slam title, a record, won after exactly two hours.
Draper received another standing ovation when he left, and it looks certain he’ll be back on center court sooner rather than later.