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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday January 16, 2024

Great Britain’s Jack Draper had his share of difficulties during his first-round tilt with Marcos Giron on Tuesday at Melbourne Park. It wasn’t always pretty – and at times it was downright ugly – but in the end it was a step in the right direction for the 22-year-old southpaw.

Tennis Express

Over the course of his 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 win over Giron, Draper suffered with anxiety that led to breathing issues. But he braved the difficulties, never cramped and came away with an important win. Afterwards came the wave of fatigue, as Draper shook hands and then quickly moved to a courtside trashcan to vomit.

That the projectile came after the match was a source of pride for Draper. The talented 22-year-old has had his share of fitness issues since his promising career got underway, and he was enthused by the fact that he was able to get through the stressful, physical encounter, without cramping.

“I don't usually get sick, not ever,” Draper told reporters. “I think it's weird. It was obviously a physical match. It's tough conditions. It wasn't that long for a five-set match. I played three hours, 40 last week in hotter conditions, and I was physically absolutely fine.

Draper said the fatigue was more psychological, similar to the tension that lead to Carlos Alcaraz’s cramping episodes at Roland-Garros during his semifinal with Novak Djokovic last year. Sometimes the mental pressure can cause all kinds of problems within the body.

Draper knows he has to work on dealing with it better.

“I think it's obviously a Grand Slam,” he said. “It's tougher sort of with the tension to play that first match. I think I'm still a young player, so getting used to the environment around these slams and the tension is difficult. I think it was more kind of psychological stress today that was causing my sort of fatigue rather than the physical nature because I felt better in the fifth set than I did the first."

Draper will need to rest up and prepare for a second-round clash with 14th-seeded Tommy Paul, a player he defeated last week in Adelaide en route to the final.

The World No.55 says he will take confidence in the fact that he survived the encounter and came away with his first five-set win at the majors – a rite of passage on the ATP Tour.

And he’ll also take it as a sign that he’s nowhere near where he wants to be, fitness-wise.

“There's no doubting I'm really proud to come through this match, and I think it is really important for me,” he said. “But there's still some underlying stuff that obviously I need to work on, whether that be psychologically starting these slams or just the way I'm handling the anxiety and the nerves because I obviously don't want to play a match like that where I feel like I'm on my hands and knees a lot, and I'm struggling to breathe and calm myself down. That's not a positive.

“But it is a big positive that physically I was able to come through the match, not cramp. As the match went on, I got better and better.”