The 22-year-old Brit had one of the best weeks of his professional career at Queen’s and continues to make strides with his ‘positive approach’
Day two at Queen’s was bittersweet for Paul Jubb. Minutes after coming off court, following a 6-7, 6-4, 1-6 first-round defeat to world No 29 Botic van de Zandschulp, the qualifier found out he was a recipient of a wildcard into the Wimbledon main draw.
“Obviously super grateful to have the wildcard,” he said in his post-match press conference. “So pleased I can get back there and play in the most prestigious tournament in the world.” Jubb was awarded a Wimbledon wildcard in 2019 following his exploits in American college tennis with the University of South Carolina. The Hull native won the renowned NCAA National Championship singles title in 2019 and turned pro shortly after.
A multiple titlist on the ITF circuit, Jubb won his first ATP Challenger event this year in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Then ranked 296 in the world, Jubb beat world 119 Juan Pablo Varillas – the Peruvian who took Felix Auger-Aliassime to five sets at Roland Garros – in the final and demonstrated his resilience, coming back from 1-4 down in the second set to take it 6-3, 7-6.
Currently ranked 219 in the world, Jubb would have been banking on making it through Wimbledon qualifying but the 22-year-old, who showed good grass-court aptitude en route to picking up the second and third top 100 wins of his career in Queen’s qualifying, is relishing the opportunity to return to the Championships.
“The last time I played [Wimbledon] was 2019 and the time before that I hadn’t properly played on grass,” he said. “I find once I get my feet settled I think on all surfaces I can cause some damage, which is good, and I like to think I can move quite well on all surfaces.”
Jubb displayed his elegant footwork against world No 76 James Duckworth in round one qualifying, beating the Australian 7-6, 4-6, 6-1. He then secured his place in the cinch Championships main draw the following day with an impressive 7-6, 7-5 victory over American world No 93 Steve Johnson.
The ATP 500 debutant acquitted himself well against Van de Zandschulp. He broke the Dutchman early on in what turned out to be a tight first set which he was unlucky to lose 5-7. However, Jubb bounced back in set two and took it 6-4, breaking Van de Zandschulp’s serve to force the match into a decider.
As is commonplace on both the men’s and women’s tours, Van de Zandschulp took advantage of the bathroom break rule before commencing the third set. With Jubb’s momentum fizzling out, the home favourite was unable to hold serve after the match resumed and quickly found himself 1-3 down.
To make matters worse, Jubb lost his footing midway through the third set and overextended his right groin. Jubb made little fuss and pushed through but ultimately came up short in the two-hour, 36-minute contest.
“I think I started to impose my game the way I wanted to in phases,” Jubb said. “I think if I served a bit better it could have swung in a different way. Either way, it was a good battle and a great match to learn from.”
The Briton is still waiting for his first main draw victory on the ATP Tour, but after coming close at Queen’s, Jubb is confident the maiden win is not too far away. “I’m learning a lot about myself,” he said. “Through this journey and this year there have been a few ups and downs already but it’s part of the process.
“Everyone’s on their own path and at the moment I am just working hard, day in, day out, taking it one step at a time. That’s all you can do really and try and have a positive approach to it.” That constructive mentality will no doubt stand Jubb in good stead not just at Wimbledon this year but throughout his career in the professional game.