Jack Draper adds Roger Federer’s nemesis to coaching set-up in bid to turn form around

Jack Draper adds Roger Federer's nemesis to coaching set-up in bid to turn form around
Jack Draper is hoping for a boost going into the French Open - Reuters/Susana Vera

Britain’s best male prospect Jack Draper has added a “supercoach” to his team, recruiting former world No 6 Wayne Ferreira for the next section of the clay-court season.

Despite Draper’s status as one of the most promising young players on the tour, his career feels like it has reached a plateau, with his ranking hovering around the 40 mark.

Since the end of 2021, the 23-year-old has been guided by the Lawn Tennis Association’s James Trotman, who is expected to remain as the leader of the team. But the hope is that Ferreira will add a new spark to what has become a comfortable coach-player relationship.

Ferreira was a stalwart of the tour in the 1990s, winning 15 titles and twice reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open. He is one of the few players to finish with a winning head-to-head record against Roger Federer.

Jack Draper adds Roger Federer's nemesis to coaching set-up in bid to turn form around
Wayne Ferreira is a former world No 6 - Telegraph/Russell Cheyne

More recently, Ferreira has been coaching the American player Frances Tiafoe. During their time together, Tiafoe improved his ranking from the 80s to the top 10, and made a spectacular run to the US Open semi-finals. But he finished last season in poor form and split with Ferreira in December.

Ferreira has been at the National Tennis Centre in south west London in recent days, working with Draper and Trotman as they prepare for the next big clay-court Masters event in Rome. The draw will be made on Monday, but one of Draper’s big issues is that – as the world’s No 43 – he stands just too low to be placed among the 32 seeds.

Draper needs to go from promising talent to the real deal

There is so much to like about Jack Draper. A howitzer of a left-handed serve, a bloody-minded competitive streak and an engaging personality make him a potential star of the future.

And yet, there is no one single “Aha!” moment that you can point to in Draper’s career. He has reached two ATP Finals but lost them both on a deciding set. He has beaten two top-10 players, both in August 2022, but generally come up short against the best.

Draper’s biggest problem has been his physicality. After a series of injuries in 2022, he hired Dejan Vojnovic – a former Olympic sprinter from Serbia – as his fitness trainer, but then suffered a stomach tear in Indian Wells and a torn shoulder tendon in the build-up to the French Open.

Missing the whole of last summer’s grass court season was a heavy blow, and may have robbed him of that breakthrough moment we just mentioned. In the offseason, he switched to a different trainer – Steve “Speedo” Kotze – who has a deeper background in tennis and has helped him manage the first four months of 2024 without injury.

“Maybe in years past I was a bit softer,” Draper said in January. “And I didn’t want to fully do the work. Whereas I’ve had enough experiences where there’s no hiding from it and I’ve really embraced what I’m trying to do. That kind of determination and real effort is going a long way for me right now.”

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