The start of the clay court season is officially upon us and the new British No.1 Kyle Edmund will start his clay court swing at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech. Edmund has had a whirlwind of a season to date. He made his first major semi-final at the Australian Open, where he was playing the best tennis of his career, but was soon setback by a virus that curtailed his progress in the months of February and part of March.
Edmund has since gone on to lose both of his two matches since returning, which was a loss to Israel’s Dudi Sela in Indian Wells and a narrow defeat to America’s Frances Tiafoe in the Miami Masters, but the Brit will be hopeful that the change of surface, the change of scenery and a fresh new start going into a period of the season which he usually excels in, will push him even further up the rankings and get him closer to the goals he has set for himself.
Edmund faces a very dangerous opponent in his opening match in Marrakech – Jiri Vesely. The Czech likes to play on this surface, moves particularly well on the red clay and got the biggest win of his career at this time of the year, when he beat then-No.1 Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters, a result that shocked the tennis world.
The reason why these small clay court tournaments are so vital for Edmund is because of the confidence that he can build heading into the more important clay court events. A successful and ambitious clay court swing can take pressure off the Brit’s shoulders when he moves into the grass court swing, where all eyes will be on Edmund, particularly as the British No.1.
I think Edmund will pull through with the win against Vesely. They’ve played on two occasions before with Edmund winning on both matches. Once in Shanghai, where the surface is one of the fastest – if not the fastest – on tour and in a dramatic match that went to a 3rd set tiebreak in the Miami Masters in 2016. Edmund is capable of winning handily, but he has to try to take confidence from the beginning of the year, rather than focusing too much on the most recent form he has showed.
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