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FLUSHING MEADOWS — British players were not always “the cool kids” of the tennis tour but rising star Jack Draper says the locker room is now starting to take notice of the plethora of talent being produced.

Draper won his first ever main draw match at the US Open on Monday night, avenging a summer defeat at Queen’s to Emil Ruusuvuori by turning the Finn over in straight sets.

Andy Murray and Harriet Dart also picked up first-round victories on Monday and while Kyle Edmund was beaten on his grand slam return after a long-term injury, 20-year-old Draper says he is proud to be a part of a growing gang of leading tour players.

“Andy, Kyle, Dan [Evans], Cam [Norrie], they’ve all been unbelievably supportive of me as a young player,” Draper said.

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“My locker in there is right next to theirs so we’re chilling out when we’re in there.

“There is a camaraderie for sure and I think other nations are beginning to respect the fact that we’ve got a lot of good players on the men’s and women’s side.

“It’s definitely an exciting time for British tennis. We can all push each other to be better for sure and keep that growing.”

Emma Raducanu’s title win in New York last year was certainly the most high-profile example but Draper’s own success story is one that deserves telling too.

Long thought of as the man to succeed Murray as the men’s game’s leading light in the UK, he first caught the imagination of the British public when beating Jannik Sinner at Queen’s in 2021 and then taking a set off Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon.

He was beaten by the 21-time grand slam champion in four sets, but it gave Draper the confidence to step up to second-tier Challenger Tour level at the start of the year, where he promptly won four titles in four months, rocketing him from 250 in the world to inside the top 100.

Concerns have been raised about his fitness – he collapsed at the end of a match in the sapping heat of Miami last year – but some of that can be pinned on his unfortunate injury record, and the humidity of New York in which even Murray struggled on Monday was a fine test for his physicality.

“I’ve come such a long way in a very short amount of time,” Draper added, pleased to have had his body hold up to the challenge.

“I’ve still got a lot of room to improve because it’s really challenging conditions, I’m young and I’m trying to keep learning and keep developing my physicality. I think I’ll keep on improving the more exposure and the more experiences I have in slams.”

He could not ask for much more exposure than a second-round match against Felix Auger-Aliassime, the No 6 seed from Canada, on Wednesday.

“I have had a lot of confidence boosters in the last few weeks and months now,” Draper said.

“I fear no one going into this tournament. Anyone I play against, I feel like I can win.

“But obviously it going to be a very tough match. He is top 10 for a reason. He is a great player. He can take the racquet out of your hand.”

Rising star Jack Draper says Brits now have the respect of the locker room at the US Open

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