“Mentally destroyed” Jack Draper cursed his injury luck once again after being forced out of the French Open with a shoulder problem.
The 21-year-old has struggled with hip and abdominal issues this season but declared himself fully fit ahead of the year’s second grand slam.
However, it became clear in the eighth game of his first-round contest against Argentinian Tomas Etcheverry that Draper was ailing physically again when he started to serve underarm.
This point was 𝙗𝙚𝙖𝙪𝙩𝙞𝙛𝙪𝙡𝙡𝙮 executed by Jack Draper 🤩
Unfortunately, the Brit was forced to retire in the second set.
— Eurosport (@eurosport) May 29, 2023
He managed to hold serve to make it 4-4 but Etcheverry claimed the next two games to take the opening set, after which a resigned-looking Draper called the trainer.
He took some pills and tried to play on but, trailing 0-30 in the second game of the second set, pulled the plug and shook hands with his opponent before trudging off court.
“Yesterday during practice when I was hitting serves, I started to feel a bit of a twinge at the bottom of my shoulder,” said Draper.
“I took all the things I needed to go on court today, hoping it would settle down. But it didn’t. It got worse. I had every intention to try to compete and play well, but after the first game it was clear that it was very sore.
“I hate being the guy who is injured a lot. It’s difficult. Mentally, it’s extremely tough, tougher than playing and losing almost.
“I put in a lot of work. I had a good week last week and I’m coming here feeling optimistic but it’s not meant to be. I feel a bit mentally destroyed.”
There is no doubt about Draper’s potential but, rather like his friend Emma Raducanu, his body has so far been unable to hold up to the rigours of top-level tennis.
He is optimistic this issue will not seriously impact his grass-court prospects, with Wimbledon starting in five weeks.
Sadly Jack Draper has been forced to retire at @rolandgarros
Hope to see you back on court soon 🙏 pic.twitter.com/sDlzZ6LRra
— LTA (@the_LTA) May 29, 2023
“I said to my coach in the first set, ‘I’m not retiring from another match’,” said a dejected Draper. “I don’t want to do this. Even if I had to play three sets serving underarm, I don’t care, I just wanted to play.
“But there’s no point in making this worse. I’ve obviously got to think about the grass round the corner and hope it settles down before that.
“It’s not a tear or a strain, it’s something to do with the tendon at the top of my arm. And, if I’m trying to serve 130mph serves, the impact, it’s just going to get more and more sore.
“It’s a huge part of my game, my serve, so hopefully it settles down but I have no idea how long that might be.
“I think I’ll be more than fine for Wimbledon, it’s just what’s going on in the weeks coming up.”
Draper feels his tennis abilities are counting against him to a degree, with the British number four winning two matches in Lyon last week on his return from the abdominal injury he suffered in March.
“I’d almost maybe be happier in the future if I lost first or second round, to make sure I’m not coming back off a five week lay-off and winning three or two matches at a high level,” he said.
“Same in Indian wells, I won three matches and against (Carlos) Alcaraz it’s just too much. It’s really frustrating. But I will get there. It’s just a brutal sport.”