By Ros Satar
- Kyle Edmund def. Dan Evans 7-5 6-1
- Sets up a first time clash against nine-time champion Rafael Nadal
MONTE CARLO, MONACO – Kyle Edmund prevailed in the battle of the Brits against Davis Cup team-mate Dan Evans, and will face Rafael Nadal next.
Kyle Edmund def. Dan Evans 7-5 6-1
There was no doubt that this was always going to be on Kyle Edmund’s racquet to lose, with a far superior record on clay that Dan Evans, as the Brummie has freely admitted. Yet he had obviously done his homework as to how to make life as unbearable for the more favoured Brit breaking him in the first game (aided and abetted by an atrocious start with two double faults).
Things hardly improved in the early part of the set despite breaking back, as Evans looked to have cracked the surface, leaping out to a 4-1 lead. Although Edmund took his own time getting back into the set, when he did, he showed why he is one of the better Brits on the dirt. He reeled off three games in a row to level at 4-4 before breaking for the set.
The second set started comfortably enough for the British No. 2, keeping pace with Edmund who on Monday was just one place behind him in the rankings, but two breaks in succession put Edmund in the driving seat.
There is a lot to improve though – Evans admitted to journalists in Rouen during the Davis Cup tie against France that he only had one way to play, and the translation of his hard court campaigning to the terre battue had been tricky, but his drop-shots burned Edmund over and over again, and coming forward is something he needs to do. He does get results – just not consistently.
As for his overheads – perhaps the nerves of knowing this was the one win he was expected to win caused all manner of fluffs that when he finally took his time while trying to convert endless match-points, he earned some sarcastic applause. Finally he was rewarded on his fourth match point.
Edmund v Rafael Nadal  – First meeting
The dirty sliding shoes will be on the other foot when Edmund will most definitely be the underdog against Rafael Nadal, most likely to be scheduled on Wednesday. Nadal has, of course, been one of the narratives of the year along with Roger Federer, with their sold start to the season while the other big names have floundered a little.
And now with Federer out of the way certainly until the French Open, if not beyond that, the way is clear for the one-time King of Clay to re-establish himself. His credentials in Monte Carlo speak for themselves, and of course he is expected to blast Edmund aside.
The key for the Brit is to be able to test himself now against the best. In his second clash with Novak Djokovic, at Indian Wells earlier this year Edmund really created chances for himself in the second set, pushing it to a tie-break and just letting nerves run away with him.
He still needs to learn not to drop his head if things don’t go his way – and needs to really bring all his fight to this encounter. Sadly if he gets off to the kind of start he did on Monday, he will find himself punished royally by Nadal.
It’s a tough shot, but something he can definitely learn from, to set him up for a solid clay season leading up to the French Open.
Prediction: Nadal in straight sets.
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