Tennis: Draper's first title a material gain

AFTER spending the best part of a week in the locker room - "having bets when the next bloody cloud would come over" - the Australian Scott Draper was overjoyed with yesterday's silver lining. The 24-year-old from Brisbane, ranked No 108 in the world, won the first ATP singles title of his career at the Stella Artois Championships.

The runner-up, Laurence Tieleman, a 25-year-old qualifier, ranked No 253, found the anti-climax of losing, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, easier to bear after taking a deep breath and counting his blessings, which included $50,000 (pounds 30,000) in prize-money, his biggest pay day.

For the tournament officials, the biggest blessing was that a bizarre, weather-beaten event had finished on time after much flapping of webbed feet beneath the water.

There is a certain irony that an Australian should win the title for a second consecutive year, given the tales of depression heard along the way from two of Draper's compatriots, Mark Philippoussis, the deposed champion, and Pat Rafter, the No 3 seed.

Draper was responsible for driving Rafter's confidence deeper into the ground by eliminating the United States Open champion in three sets in the second round. Draper also defeated Mark Woodforde, a fellow Aussie left-hander, in the semi-finals, 6-3, 6-2, winning all but the concluding game on rain-sodden Saturday.

Peering from behind one of the tallest silver cups in sport, Draper, 5ft 10in, explained that he nearly gave the tournament a miss in order to have surgery to his right knee after losing in the second round of the French Open. That can now wait until later in the year, Draper said, joking that he would use a portion of the $85,000 (pounds 53,000) prize to pay the surgeon.

Paris has romantic memories for Draper - he proposed to his wife, Kelly, on the Eiffel Tower. Three weeks ago, however, Kelly was taken to hospital in Paris on the eve of the French Open and Draper was refused a Tuesday start. Kelly's stomach complaint was cured within days and she was able to share yesterday's triumph.

For Australian tennis followers, Draper's breakthrough was overdue. Some had compared his all-court game to the great Rod Laver, who twice accomplished the Grand Slam, and whose pre-Wimbledon preparation included wins here at Queen's in 1962 and 1970 in what were then the London Grass Court Championships.

"It's flattering, but it doesn't fit," Draper said. "You're talking about a guy who is the greatest legend in international tennis, and I'm a no one. It's frustrating to hear people always building you up, saying you've got all the shots, and you're losing in the first round."

By no means a Laver, Draper is capable of doing a bit of damage at Wimbledon, where his best performance, even though he is yet to advance beyond the first round. "Who knows?" Draper said. "I could lose in the first round, I could reach the semis - I could win it. Anything is possible. Ray Ruffles [a leading Australian coach] was saying that in the 32 years he's been in the game he's never seen Wimbledon so open. And we've got a group of Aussies in there"

Tieleman, the lowest ranked player to play in a final of the Stella Artois, may be also the first to compete in the final wearing cerise shorts. He must be the the first Queen's Club member to wear them on the Centre Court, nifty though they are, having been run up by his brother, Henri James, a sportswear designer.

Tieleman, who trains with Peter Fleming at Queen's, was born in Belgium. His father is Dutch and his mother Italian, and he decided to play for the mother country after being rejected as a junior by Belgium and the Netherlands.

He will certainly be remembered by the Lawn Tennis Association, having been Greg Rusedski's opponent when the British No 1 fell and damaged his left ankle on Friday, and then saved two match points before eliminating Tim Henman, the British No 2, later the same day. "It was not a good feeling to win and see Greg in so much pain," Tieleman said. "I thought it was pretty much it when Tim had the match points, but he got very nervous and I took advantage."

Tieleman, who was beaten by Richard Krajicek in the third round at Wimbledon in 1993, will forsake this week's qualifying tournament in order to play in the Nottingham Open in an attempt to further improve his world ranking, which today will soar into the 130s.

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders