Johanna Konta advances in Miami Open but Jack Draper forced to retire

Draper struggled with the heat and humidity and was forced to retire after a set against Mikhail Kukushkin.
Johanna Konta advances in Miami Open but Jack Draper forced to retire

By Eleanor Crooks, PA Tennis Correspondent

Johanna Konta claimed a much-needed victory at the Miami Open but teenager Jack Draper dramatically collapsed on his ATP Tour debut.

The 19-year-old Londoner was given a wild card for one of the biggest events outside of the grand slams and showed the talent that makes him one of Britain’s hottest prospects, but he was unable to cope with the hot and humid conditions.

His first-round clash against Kakazh Mikhail Kukushkin was gruelling from the start and Draper, a former Wimbledon junior finalist, began to look increasingly troubled physically.

He called the doctor trailing 6-5 and had his heart rate and blood pressure taken. He carried on but down set point in the next game he moved for a backhand then fell to the floor, later saying he tripped due to feeling dizzy.

He was swiftly attended to by medics and was sitting up with an ice pack on his neck when the umpire called the match for Kukushkin.

Draper was able to walk off court and, speaking several hours later, said: “I think the conditions got on top of me a little bit today and physically I just need to improve more. I’ve got a lot to improve on but my level seems to be pretty close.”

The teenager revealed, like Andy Murray, he caught coronavirus in January after training at the National Tennis Centre, while injuries and the restrictions of the pandemic have stalled his progress.

Draper is determined to push forward in 2021, saying: “This year I’ve really got the desire and the motivation to be a great tennis player. There’s been times in the past where maybe I’ve been a bit apprehensive about that. But as I’ve got older I’ve started to really realise what I’m capable of.”

Konta had won only one match this year prior to facing Pole Magda Linette in the second round and only nine since being sidelined by a knee problem after the 2019 US Open.

She suffered another injury blow when she sustained an abdominal problem during her first-round match at the Australian Open last month and had to retire.

Konta hung tough against Linette, though, with the only blip coming when she was pegged back from a break up in the second set.

Konta said: “I’m really happy to come through that. It was a tough match against a tough opponent in tough conditions. It was hot, it was windy, so it was a lot of things out there to contend with and I was just really pleased that I was able to compete well and find a way to come through.”

The British number one revealed she will not be part of Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup – formerly Fed Cup – team when they take on Mexico in a World Group play-off in London next month.

Konta wants to give her troublesome knee time to adjust with the clay-court season coming up.

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