Kyle Edmund kicked off his first Wimbledon campaign as strong as one can, opening with an ace against the No.24 seed Jerzy Janowicz. He raced to claim his maiden game at the All England Club and had his chances in the second game too, showing little nerve expected of the youngest man in the Gentleman’s Singles draw at just 18 years old.
Mixing up his plan of attack, he began with charging serve and volley plays, deft drop shots and powerful forehands. The Grand Slam debutant nabbed another game against his Polish opposition, four years his senior, for the 2-1 lead.
But things didn’t then go quite as smoothly for the No.385 player against his No.22-ranked opponent. Janowicz, who scored a run to the third round at the Fortnight in 2012, appeared to pick up his level of play, needing a little time to acclimatise to the gusty conditions and his youthful opponent.
While suggestions of tremendous talent shown throughout the straight sets loss from the youngster - a passing shot winner here, an un-returnable serve there - the errors piled up for the wild card as he found it difficult to successfully cope with the power of the dominating Janowicz assault. In the end, he succumbed 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.
“It was a tough experience,” said the Brit after the match. “It was very tough out there to get much rhythm, sort of ease into the tournament. He's such a big player, hits the ball really hard. And if you're not on it 100 per cent, it's very tough.”
Despite the loss, however, Edmund appeared to take positives from the learning experience. “I still played okay, I thought. But at that level, I think I need to play better to win,” he added.
Down 5-2, Edmund appeared helpless versus his more seasoned opponent in set one. A drop shot volley set up the Pole’s first set point and a forehand winner, his 13th of the match, clinched the lead.
To start the second set, Edmund, who won his first match on Tour last week at Eastbourne, appeared to be down and out, but his big serve perpetually saved him from trouble. A couple of forehand winners from Janowicz and an out ball from Edmund ultimately donated the 1-0 start.
The Brit’s frustration began to show games later as a backhand landed wide to give a 3-0 lead to Janowicz. Edmund smacked a ball on to the grass court with his head slumped, returning to his seat for the changeover.
But after grabbing a game - his first since the start of set one - Edmund seemed to find his form to score a beak point down 1-4. On his third opportunity though, the hope of halting Janowicz’s form was banished as Edmund tripped on the grass. He dumped a backhand return and another penetrating forehand from the Polish player earned him the 5-1 lead.
Janowciz took the second set at love on a forehand winner in 31 minutes.
The third set continued with much of the same as the Polish player started with a 1-0 lead on another Edmund error, followed by a game at love for 2-0. But Edmund, too, proved stronger on serve in a display similar to his stunning opening. He struck a forehand winner (his sixth of the match) to once again definitively claim a game.
In what at first appeared to be the final game of the match, the 18-year-old quickly went down 0-40. But not so fast - Edmund upped his level of play through a combination of tricky shot placement and serving to fight off four Janowicz match points. He took the game for 4-5 by inducing another error from the Pole.
On serve however, a Janowicz forehand set up match point number five and a big serve sealed the deal as an Edmund ball floated long.
For the future, Edmund will play the Wimbledon Junior tournament next week and attempt more events on the ATP Tour. “I've got to keep heading in the right direction,” he said.
So what to take away from the match and the early end to his Fortnight in Gentlemen’s Singles? “Just to bring it every day, to be honest,” added Edmund.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
20:19It was the wackiest of Wimbledons with the most unlikely of headline-makers: Sergiy Stakhovsky, Steve Darcis, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Kimiko-Date Krumm, Jerzy Janowicz, Sabine Lisicki, Marion Bartoli...View all