By Jake Davies

  • Mikhail Kukushkin defeats Kyle Edmund [2] 5-7 6-3 6-1
  • Lukas Lacko defeats Cameron Norrie [WC] 6-3, 6-4
EASTBOURNE, UNITED KINGDOM – Both British representatives crashed out of the Nature Valley International quarter-finals as Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie lost their respective matches on Thursday.

 

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Mikhail Kukushkin def. Kyle Edmund [2] 5-7 6-3 6-1

Kyle Edmund’s grass court season was gaining a bit of momentum after producing a fantastic performance to beat Andy Murray, but the British No.1’s progress came to a screeching halt as he lost in three sets to World No.90 Mikhail Kukushkin.

Edmund mostly took advantage of the short ball and looked to attack when the opportunity presented itself and that helped him along the way to securing the first set 7-5, but his level was nowhere near the level he put together in the previous round for the next two sets. The Brit lost his serve in the third game and lost his serve once more as his serve took a turn for the worst to concede the second set.

The third set was even more one-sided for Kukushkin. The Kazakh started constructing a sequence of frightening points off his backhand side and his flat groundstrokes complimented the slick grass courts very well as he successfully blasted through the windy conditions and claimed the upset win to the dismay of the Eastbourne crowd.

It started to look like Edmund was in pole position to finally get his first ATP title and the draw really opened up once he bested his idol Murray in the previous round, but now Edmund has a few more extra days to really knuckle down and prepare for his next big adventure in Wimbledon, where he will be hoping to make the second week for the first time. Losing here in Eastbourne might turn out to be a real blessing in disguise and leaves him plenty of time to recuperate, while also playing enough grass-court tennis in the last few weeks.

He said, after the match: “Obviously a loss is not nice. Especially when I did sort of reasonably well to get back into it in the first set and actually winning it. Then having some momentum to start the second, break point opportunities.

“From then on, it was frustrating. Then obviously 6-1 third set is not what you want. So some good bits. Probably the majority was stuff I really needed to do a lot better in order to win today. But Kukushkin on grass is sort of a tricky opponent the way he hits the ball, obviously quite low and flat.

“Yeah, tough at the minute, obviously a bit of a downer. Just sort of regroup for next week.”

This continues to be a break-out week for the Brit – but he has yet to progress past the second round of Wimbledon and obviously being seeded this year, as well as being the British No. 1 there will be a fair degree of expectation on him.

He continued: “I feel like I’m playing my best I have played on grass before, so that’s one positive. But it’s obviously you always look at matches you lose and think why am I not winning them? Then you identify things you can get better at or things you’re not doing so well.

“It’s definitely been better in past years, but of course there is so much more to improve on. We always try and keep that in perspective. Today is another thing to learn from, especially on the grass court and how the match panned out, as well.

“Going into Wimbledon, I have hit shedloads of balls, have trained a lot, especially doubles last week, seven matches now. A decent amount of time on court.”

 

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Lukas Lacko def. Cameron Norrie [WC] 6-3, 6-4

Cameron Norrie in the quarter-final of the Nature Valley International, ATP Eastbourne 2018

Cameron Norrie in the quarter-final of the Nature Valley International, ATP Eastbourne 2018 | (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for LTA)

Cameron Norrie failed to get into his second ATP semi-final as he fell in straight-sets to an inspired Lukas Lacko in straight sets. Norrie has felt better and better on the grass-courts, which he admits is not his preferred surface and it has taken some time to get used to, but Lacko ultimately felt much more accustomed to the conditions of the grass-court and was good value for his win in straight-sets.

He said, after the match: “For sure, I think the grass is not the most natural surface for me, but I think it’s a good challenge and I like a challenge. And I think I can play well, and I think I’m going to be beat over five sets in Wimbledon if I have a good attitude and play every point and compete as hard as I can. I’m very happy with the way I played this week and ready for Wimbledon.”

 

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