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.

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas