British duo Luke Johnson and Jack Draper progress to World Tour M25 Shrewsbury tournament semi-finals
Luke Johnson is hoping to add a singles success to the doubles triumph he enjoyed at The Shrewsbury Club earlier in his career as he prepares for today’s semi-finals.
Johnson, from Leeds, set up a clash with Italian Julian Ocleppo in the Budgen Motors ITF World Tour M25 Shrewsbury tournament by beating Arthur Fery in straight sets in the quarter-finals.
That will be today’s opening match, starting at 11am, followed by the second last four clash, which also has British interest, with top seed Jack Draper through to face German player Tobias Simon.
An all-British doubles final will end the day as Elliott Farmer and Alexander Jhun take on Tom Hands and James MacKinlay at 4pm.
Admission is free to spectators to enjoy the action from court-side stands.
Johnson, 25, who has become a regular visitor to The Shrewsbury Club, has fond memories of teaming up with Scott Clayton to win a Pro-Series doubles title in Shropshire in 2017.
“I’m enjoying the whole tournament,” said Johnson, this week’s seventh seed. "I’m playing some good tennis, so it’s nice to be here and nice to advance to the semis.
“When you come to a tournament, you come to win it. Obviously, as a tennis player, only one out of 32 win it each week, so it’s not easy, but, no, it’s nice to be in the mix to win it on the semi-finals day.”
It will be the first meeting between Johnson and second seed Ocleppo - a 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 victor over Irish No 1 Simon Carr in the last eight.
Johnson, impressed with the quality of the Shrewsbury tournament, insisted: “It’s one of the best we’ve got all year in terms of Futures. The effort that’s put in here to really make it feel special for us players is nice and it’s why I come back every year and it’s why a lot of other players come back.
“I won the doubles once and now hoping to get the singles title as well.”
Johnson, a 6-3, 6-3 winner over fellow Brit Fery yesterday, enjoyed featuring in the main draw at Wimbledon for the first time this summer.
He partnered Evan Hoyt in the men’s doubles and is now keen to build on the experience.
“That was an amazing experience,” he said, “I’m now looking to take that experience that I gained there and springboard both my singles and doubles careers further.”
Meanwhile, rising star Draper, 17, who is supported by the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme, booked his place in the semi-finals with a 6-4, 7-6 victory over Italian Francesco Vilardo.
It was the day’s longest quarter-final, lasting just over two hours, with Draper progressing after claiming his third win in as many days.
He will now take on Simon, the sixth seed, after he got the better of his fellow German Robert Strombachs 6-3, 6-4.
The doubles event is guaranteed a British winner with Farmer and Jhun facing Hands and MacKinlay in the final.
They both came through third-set tie-breaks to set up today’s meeting. Farmer and Jhun overcame fellow Brits Sean Hodkin and Andrew Ponder, while Hands and MacKinlay beat Italians Ocleppo and Vilardo, the second seeds.
This week’s Shrewsbury tournament is part of an expanded international calendar of tournaments being staged by the LTA in Britain this year, providing a showcase for tennis outside of the traditional summer grass court season and opening up the sport to more fans around the country.
The move is also part of the LTA’s new long-term Performance Strategy, and aims to provide more opportunities for British players to compete, earn ranking points and win prize money in the UK.
Pictured: Luke Johnson on court during his quarter-final victory which set up a semi-final against Italian Julian Ocleppo at The Shrewsbury Club. Picture: Richard Dawson Photography.