Kyle Edmund came into his third clay court event of the clay court swing with a lot of match-play to draw upon in Marrakech but would have been disappointed with his short stay at the Monte Carlo Masters. Edmund was extremely sharp, confident and hitting the ball as well as he could have hoped for against a promising teen in Alex De Minaur, who plays well on all surfaces.
The important thing for Edmund was to get a fast start so he could start swinging away freely and get the most out of his strong forehand. He did just that and completely controlled the first set. We knew that the young Australian would try to make things as difficult as possible by getting as many balls back as possible, but Edmund maintained his aggression, but stayed switched on and expected the balls to keep returning.
After taking the first set 6-2, Edmund soon blasted his way to a 4-2 in the 2nd set, only to get pegged back by a determined and motivated De Minaur, who was playing just his second ATP main draw match on the clay. Edmund found the much-needed break in the 11th game of the set and served it out cleanly to score an important confidence-building victory in a crucial week for the British No.1.
Kyle Edmund  vs Joao Sousa H2H: Tied at 1-1
The size of the next task does not get any easier for Edmund, who now plays the Portuguese No.1 Joao Sousa in the quarter-final. Sousa had had a torrid run of results in his home event and had not picked up a single win at this tournament since 2012, but with a win against big-hitting Daniil Medvedev and a resilient comeback, where he saved two match points against Pedro Sousa, he should be inspired to get one of his biggest scalps in recent memory.
Sousa is no one trick pony either. Yes, he enjoys playing his game on the red clay, but his success on most surfaces goes unnoticed as he has achieved success on indoor and outdoor surfaces too. Sousa likes to play at a very high tempo and is not afraid to get under the skin of his opponents and will search to get his forehand into play as often as possible. He may not have as big a forehand as Edmund, but he understands when to hold back and when to fire away with that shot. The key for Edmund is to be aware of the damage that shot can do whenever he goes to it.
Another thing that Edmund will need to remember is that the pressure is on Sousa to do well this week. This particular tournament has never seen a local make the final here, so the spectators will be desperate to see Sousa do well and that might work to Edmund’s advantage.
Edmund will just about edge this one. He was hitting the ball supremely well in his second round match and he was even nailing the backhand, which is surely a sign of his confidence right now.
Cameron Norrie vs Roberto Carballes Baena H2H: First meeting
Cameron Norrie‘s rise to just outside the Top 100 of men’s tennis has been quite something and he reached another milestone this week after beating Robin Haase. That was just his second ever win over a Top 50 player and it marked the first ATP main draw victory for Norrie on the clay, which further suggests he is finding a way to compete with some experienced players on the tour.
Norrie’s second round match will be against Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain. A player with great work ethic, that chases down lost causes and enjoys playing on the red clay a lot. Carballes Baena won his first ATP title in Quito in Ecuador back in February, so has shown signs of playing at a higher level and should be a very tall order for Norrie when these two clash.
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