With no Andy Murray in the Australian Open draw, Kyle Edmund is the only British men’s singles player in the tournament. Over the past few seasons, the 23-year-old has made small, incremental changes that seem drastic when looked at in the long term. Edmund has continued to work hard and it seems his chance has finally come.
Improvements Under Pressure
All of the Briton’s matches this year have gone the distance–in fact his last straight-set match came last October in Vienna when he defeated Jan-Lennard Struff. Edmund used to have a tendency to lose tight matches and some doubted this nerve in the big moments. In 2017, he lost eighteen out of his twenty-five contests that went the distance; that is a 28% record, which should be significantly higher for a player of his quality.
The Briton has been ruthless this year in deciding sets. All four of his matches this year have required a final set and he has only been defeated in one, by Grigor Dimitrov. Edmund can be forgiven for that loss because the Bulgarian is a formidable opponent but the world #49 looked set to win before he fell and twisted his ankle.
Sensational Start to 2018
Kyle Edmund has scored some massive wins this season – and it is only January! In Brisbane he defeated two young guns, Denis Shapovalov and Hyeon Chung. He then lost in the quarterfinals to defending champion Grigor Dimitrov after an injury scare. Shapovalov held a winning record over the Brit so that win was huge and Chung recently won the inaugural NextGen Finals event, which shows Edmund is clearly in good form.
The 23-year-old scored the biggest win of his career by defeating the US Open finalist, Kevin Anderson, in five sets in the first round of the Australian Open. The Briton was two sets to one down and he was even down a break in the fifth but he showed his improvements under pressure that I mentioned earlier.
It makes you think how far Kyle Edmund has come in the last year. At the 2017 French Open, Edmund fell to Anderson in five sets. Clay is arguably the favoured surface of the Brit and the worst surface of the South African so you would think that would be Edmund’s best chance to defeat the big man. Fast forward six months and the 23-year-old is defeating Anderson on the South African’s best surface. A truly incredible victory.
Wide Open Section
On Day 1 of the Australian Open, for the first time since Grand Slams went from sixteen to thirty-two seeds, four seeds from the same eighth of a Slam draw fell in the first round. Jack Sock, Kevin Anderson, Lucas Pouille, and Philipp Kohlschreiber were the seeds who tumbled out in that portion of the draw. Luckily for British tennis fans, Kyle Edmund is in that section.
This means that Yuichi Sugita (#41) is the highest ranked player in the draw and Kyle Edmund (#49) is the second highest ranked. Denis Istomin (#60), Nikoloz Basilashvili (#61), Andreas Seppi (#76), Ivo Karlovic (#89), Ruben Bemelmans (#117), and Yoshihito Nishioka (#168) complete the wide-open section. Big-serving Ivo Karlovic is also the only former Grand Slam quarterfinalist in this group.
Edmund has made the fourth round of a Grand Slam once before: at the US Open in 2016. After major improvements physically, technically, and most importantly mentally, he seems ready to make the next step in his career.
When the Australian Open draw was released I instantly predicted that the Brit would make the quarterfinals here. Now this section has opened up, I am even more confident that Kyle Edmund will make his first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal.