For the past few days, Kyle Edmund has kindly given Jonny O’Mara a lift in his car from the National Tennis Centre at Roehampton to the All England Club. With the British pair due to face off in the last 16 of the boys’ singles, Wednesday morning’s journey could be interesting.
“I’m going to drive out the A3 and drop him off outside London,” joked Edmund.
For the first time since O’Mara beat Edmund in straight sets in an under-12 event in the small English town of Corby, the two 18-year-olds will play each other in an encounter which you could label as a ‘Battle of Britain’, with O’Mara hailing from Arbroath, Scotland and Edmund from Yorkshire.
O’Mara feels he already has one battle won, though, after their car journeys this week. “I will definitely be 1-0 up in the banter but it could change on the court, who knows,” said O’Mara, a Manchester United fan.
Edmund, who supports Liverpool, does not argue but has a warning for his friend. “Jonny’s probably got better banter than me but I’m not sure how much banter is going to be going on when I don’t give him lifts anymore,” he said.
Both players were impressive yesterday as they ensured that Britain will have a quarter-finalist in this year’s draw. O’Mara took the scalp of No.11 seed Pedro Cachin, of Argentina, 7-6(3), 6-2, while No.5 seed Edmund beat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 6-1.
O’Mara, like Andy Murray, has spent much of his youth training indoors in Stirling at the Scottish National Tennis Centre. During his time there, he regularly worked with Murray’s mum Judy but is now working with coach James Trotman, as well as receiving input from Greg Rusedski.
His appearance at the All England Club this year almost never happened, though. O’Mara astonishingly forgot to enter for his home Grand Slam. “I made a mistake,” said O’Mara. “I was in Milan and I do all my entering on my own, and I didn't enter for Roehampton [an ITF junior event held last week] or Wimbledon. It was a mistake but I am learning from that.
“Fortunately I wrote to Wimbledon and they were kind enough to give me a wild card into qualifying which I am very grateful for. From then on I have qualified and won two matches so it has been rewarding. It has made up for it and it is a mistake which won't happen again.”
Considering that world No.1524 O’Mara claimed his first senior world ranking point at a Futures event in Bournemouth just two months ago, Edmund is the clear favourite, having recently won his first ATP match in Eastbourne to rise to No.385 in the rankings.
This is Edmund’s last junior event before he focuses on the senior tour full-time. Although he is already well used to playing alongside the big boys in recent months, he has found the transition back to juniors for the last time useful.
“Coming back to the juniors is a different sort of pressure because in the seniors, especially with me being a wild card here, I wasn’t the one expecting to win,” said Edmund. “But when you come into juniors you have an expectation to win so it’s a different kind of pressure.
“It’s good to have the mixture because sometimes you can go into seniors and play a lot and feel that you don’t have to win but these top guys – [Novak] Djokovic, Murray, [Roger] Federer – they are always expected to win. Hopefully one day I will be at that stage where I am expected to win so it is good to have the pressure now.”
O’Mara and Edmund are the only two British players remaining in the draw after Luke Bambridge, Billy Harris and Julian Cash were all knocked out in straight sets. No.7 seed Christian Garin, who won the Roland Garros junior title last month, beat Bambridge 6-4, 6-4, No.9 seed Filippo Baldi beat Harris 6-1, 7-6(4) and No.3 seed Alexander Zverev, the younger brother of Mischa, beat Cash 6-4, 7-6(7).
Australian Open champion Nick Kyrgios, the No.1 seed, cruised through with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Lucas Miedler, as did No.2 seed Nikola Milojevic by the same scoreline over Daniil Medvedev. Thanasi Kokkinakis, who finished runner-up to Kyrgios in Melbourne, beat Daniel Windahl 7-6(6), 7-5.
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