British No. 1 Kyle Edmund returned to the court for the first time since his run to the Australian Open semi-final after a hip injury that kept him out of Britain’s Davis Cup tie wit Spain, and a virus ruled him out of starting his season a little earlier.
It was a tough ask, therefore to come back to a big tournament, which can often upend players with the dry and gritty conditions on court. Today was no exception as he faced lucky loser Dudi Sela. The Israeli might have only managed a first round exit in Melbourne while Edmund often toiled long and hard in the Aussie sun, but since then Sela has notched up a further 11 matches.
Timing was off for Edmund as Sela struck first with a early break but it did at least look as though he had sparked a bit f a return, as he broke back to level, later saving another four points on his serve, before Sela struck again to break for the first set, as Edmund’s forehand went for a sight-seeing trip around the Joshua Tree National park.
The pair traded breaks at the start of the second set, and it overall looked a little more competitive but serving to stay in the match was maybe a step too far as Sela broke once more for the match.
He explained: “It was good to be back on court again. Like you said six weeks generally away from matches is probably the longest time you have in pre-season. Unfortunately I haven’t been on the court, it’s good to be back. Today’s been a loss for me which obviously I don’t want to have. It’s one of those things where it’s that about time like now I have a match, now I have something to work on and I have stuff to work on.
“I’ve something to relate to know, and work on the next couple of weeks before my next match. Stuff to get really stuck into which is I guess – I mean there’s much more opportunities coming up for sure over the summer.”
Edmund only started back on the court about three weeks ago, and no amount of practice can prepare for match conditions. Although he had been in Spain with the rest of the British team, the hip injury he sustained at the end of his Australian Open run meant a chance for both Liam Broadyand Cameron Norrie (now British No. 3) to step up.
“He obviously did amazing at Davis Cup. Was great to be there, watch and support. And then he’s obviously played pretty much full on since then and getting some decent results and just improving all the time. He has a lot of room to keep on improving in terms of ranking and game and stuff. He hasn’t even played a full year of being on the tour yet, which is exciting for him. For sure he’ll be good and continue to improve.”
‘In reality ‘to be British No. 1, probably need to be Top 5 in the world’
With Andy Murray slipping down the rankings, and on the strength of his run in Melbourne, Edmund has now overtaken the three-time Slam champion as the British No. 1. But while he feels he deserves the ranking, he felt it was perhaps a double-edged sword.
“It’s really nice. When you’re young and you think being British No. 1 is something you want to do, and when you do it, probably something look back on and be proud of. When you’re in the moment you just acknowledge it but nothing really changes in terms of mind-set or the way you do things. Not for me anyway.
“I deserve everything I get in terms of my ranking and results, and I work hard for it, but at the same time it’s been helped by Andy dropping ranking. Basically we’ve just crossed over so that’s how I’ve got it.
“I don’t think it’s not that I don’t deserve it, but at the same time if Andy was fit he’d still be Top 5. In reality if you want to be British No. 1 you probably have to be Top 5 in the world.”
Edmund will play in the Miami Open, which takes place between 21 March and 1 April.
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