Sunday, 28 January 2018

What Does the Future Hold for Kyle Edmund?

by Oliver Wright

Kyle Edmund’s remarkable Australian Open run came to an end in a heavy defeat against sixth seed Marin Cilic in the semi-finals. The British number two lost to Marin Cilic 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, who now progresses to face either Roger Federer or Hyeon Chung in his third grand slam final (having won the US Open in 2014). Struggling with a hip problem throughout the match, Edmund achieved only two break points, both of which were in the first game of the evening, and a double fault on his opening serve immediately set him on the backfoot, leading to him eventually capitulating to the pressure losing the first break of the match in game six. Although Edmund made the Croatian work for his win, sending the second set to a tiebreak, he didn’t challenge the serve of the sixth seed regularly enough to provide any dangerous resistance, with Cilic dropping only five points from his first serve. Cilic’s aggressive style was too much for the 49th seed, with the vast difference in experience showing as he clinically finished the match in straight sets.

Despite the disappointment in not being only the fourth Brit to reach a Grand Slam final since tennis turned professional in 1968, Edmund can still be extraordinarily proud of his best run in a Grand Slam to date, surpassing his reaching the 4th round at the US Open in 2016. In his remarkable run, he managed to beat both 11th seed Kevin Anderson and 3rd seed Grigor Dimitrov, both of which were career-best wins at the time, highlighting just how incredible his progression through the draw was. He was however, dominated from the outset by Cilic, and although Edmund could have blamed the loss the injury sustained to his hip, with his difficulty shown through the medical time out and treatment he received for it, he showed great maturity and respect for his opponent’s excellent performance in describing the injury as ‘irrelevant’. Unfortunately, the problem with his hip will potentially disrupt his preparations for next week’s Davis Cup match against Spain, with Edmund unsure as to whether or not it will have fully recovered in time for him to make an appearance. This leaves for a nervous wait on a medical report for the Great British team that is strongly reliant on the man who will hopefully front their claim to regain the Davis Cup trophy won for the first time in 2015, in the absence of Andy Murray.

Had he beaten Cilic, he would have surpassed Murray and become Britain’s number one ranked tennis player. However, he still progresses into the top 30 ranked players in the world for the first time in his career, dramatically improving his chances of being seeded for both Wimbledon and the French Open. This stands him in great stead for the remainder of the 2018 tennis season, as not only does he build a great amount of confidence undoubtedly gained from reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final, but he also maintains a good chance to overtake Murray in the national rankings, with the current British number one standing to lose the 500 ranking points he gained for winning last year’s Dubai title in February. This would make Edmund Britain’s top player, further heightening his exposure to the media and public that has decidedly increased as a result of his reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final, in turn increasing the expectation of the British public upon him, hopefully leading to an even more motivated response in the French Open (which is played on clay, where Kyle Edmund is most consistently successful). Furthermore, he highlighted his desire to better his exceptional efforts in the Australian Open in the post-match interview, stating that he has caught the Grand Slam ‘bug’, relishing the ‘battle’ that the intensity of the Grand Slam event provides. Although Roland Garros begins late May, and despite there still being a number of tournaments to play in the ensuing months, Edmund has still given reason to believe that he is capable of progressing far in this year’s French Open while also showing his potential to be a top 10 player in the not-so-distant future, with this point of view being supported by pundits such as ex-Grand Slam champion Pat Cash. To compound on this his unbelievable run has lead to him adding £500,000 to his career earnings of £1.5 million, a healthy bonus that should further his aspirations of achieving more Grand Slam success.

The 23 year-old Yorkshireman has provided British tennis with a much needed hope in the wake of Andy Murray’s injury plagued past year, and could possibly be the long-term successor of the legendary Scotsman. With Edmund having already shown his pedigree in his recent exploits at the Australian Open and in his contribution to Great Britain’s only ever Davis Cup triumph in 2015, it only remains to be seen as to whether he can compound upon his successful last few years, delivering on his potential to be a world-class competitor.   

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