By Ros Satar
- Kyle Edmund is the last Brit standing after Aljaz Bedene and Cameron Norrie bow out on Wednesday
- Faces Denis Shapovalov for third time this year
- Defending his run to the fourth round last year
NEW YORK, USA – Kyle Edmund will get a taste of what it has been like for Andy Murray to often be the sole standard bearer for the Brits when he takes on Denis Shapovalov in the third round.
Kyle Edmund def. Steve Johnson 7-5 6-2 7-6(4)
Johnson is still very much dealing with the raw grief of the sudden death of his father, and that was very evident to see at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and emotions were not far from the surface for him as he clinched his first round victory.
Edmund was in a hurry, breaking the American at the start, and despite losing his serve, broke straight back to keep his advantage, as the pair traded a couple of breaks before Edmund powered down a service game to love to take a one-set lead.
He started just as decisively in the second set, this time breaking the American twice and never really looking back from a 4-0 lead at the start. Johnson held it together a litte more substantially in the third set, with not a sniff of a break point for either player before a momentum-swinging tie-break, with Edmund edging the big points where they mattered.
No joy for Aljaz Bedene and qualifier Cameron Norrie
A knee injury together with the rain delay resulted in a disappointing opening round exit for Aljaz Bedene, who has only ever one once in the main draw. He was downed in straight sets by Andrey Rublev 6-1 6-4 6-4, and he told BBC Sport:
“I’m very disappointed – it wasn’t good at all. I’m struggling with the movement at the moment. I’ve had problems with the knee since Wimbledon and I thought it was going to be OK, but it’s not, so tough times.”
Norrie told BBC Sport: “It’s just been a great experience. I’m proud of myself but a little bit disappointed.”
Edmund v Denis Shapovalov | H2H: Tied at 1-1
Few who were watching could forget the bizarre end to their Davis Cup decisive fifth rubber, when a rashly struck ball from the young Canadian Denis Shapovalov after losing a point struck chair-umpire Arnaud Gabas in the face, fracturing the orbital bone beneath his left eye.
Of course it was completely unintentional and the resulting default cost the Canadians the tie, but has since become the making of Shapovalov. He has worked hard to not be known as ‘that guy that took out the umpire’ and backed up his resolve with turning the tables on Edmund who had been very much in control of their Davis Cup match, beating him at Queen’s Club.
Edmund was strangely subdued and disappointing on the grass this year, but really seemed to have re-kindled some fire in the belly with some strong results at either end of the Masters double-headers leading up to the US Open. However, Shapovalov possibly gets one over him in that department, beating Juan Martin Del Potro and Rafael Nadal on the way to the Montreal Masters semi-final, and is a refreshing prospect for Canadian tennis at the moment.
Both have an explosive style of play, hard hitting forehands and serves, and it all comes down to who is the more consistent on the day. Edmund edges the Canadian in terms of experience, but it was a big win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga that will leave the Next Gen Canadian feeling mighty confident.
Edmund could win this, but it will be a long one. And how does the quiet Brit feel with the pressure now firmly on his broad shoulders?
Talking to BBC Sport, he said: “It’s a shame really that a few of us have lost early, and obviously Andy [Murray] was injured,” he said. I guess in another way it’s good that there’s some more depth in British tennis that we’re able to have other people go further.”
Prediction: Edmund in five sets.
Edmund & Shapovalov are scheduled on Arthur Ashe Stadium, not before 1pm (6pm BST).
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