By Ros Satar, in Paris
- Fabio Fognini  def. Kyle Edmund  6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4
- Edmund disappointed but good progress on clay this year
- Looking ahead to grass
PARIS, FRANCE – British No. 1 Kyle Edmund bowed out of the men’s singles as he lost a five-setter to the mercurial Fabio Fognini.
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Fabio Fognini  def. Kyle Edmund  6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4
Once more Edmund was quick off the blocks, breaking Fognini in the opening game of the first set, but immediately found himself under pressure on his own serve. Fognini’s persistence paid off as he delivered two breaks in quick succession towards the end of the set to wrap up a one-set lead.
You only have to look at Edmund’s tenacity in his first-round match at the Australian Open to know that we were settling in for a long morning, as he started was the first to break once more, building up a 4-1 lead.
Things started to get a bit messy as Edmund was broken the first time he was serving for the set, and his second attempt was not going much better as another wayward game for Fognini to get things back on serve.
While Edmund was bidding for a spot in the last 16 for the first time, it seems strange that Fognini, for whom the bulk of his career has had his best results on the clay, has only been to the fourth round once before 11 attempts.
It was a strange match on Lenglen with peculiar ebbs and flows, and at times the atmosphere seemed flat – at least until Fognini got up to some of his old antics, having a ‘bit of verbal’ with someone in the crowd, bidding arrivederci to a racquet and generally being Fognini.
With Edmund taking advantage of more Fognini agitation, he went up a set, only for the Italian to wake himself up for a more solid set of tennis to level the match 2-2.
Into the decider, Fognini confidently kicked off the score-board while Edmund started to look more and more hassled in the Parisian sunshine. The Italian was looking the fresher in the fifth set but the first break points chances fell to the Brit – he failed to capitalise on both.
A loose looking game from Edmund gave Fognini three match points, and while Edmund saved one, it was not enough as he was denied his first spot in the round of 16.
Edmund said: “It’s tough to digest a five-set match, you know, so soon after. But initially obviously tough match, disappointed. Always losing in five sets, you know, is tough. But, you know, I did the best I could today.
”I have been on the opposite end, winning a few five-setters, and today just losing one. It’s always tough when you put in lots of effort and, you know, emotion and stuff. It’s what you train for. And it just wasn’t my day.
“For sure, I had my chances, he had his chances, but he just got them today. Yeah, it’s just one of them where it’s over now and just sort of reflect a bit and go again for the grass court season.”
Reflecting on the clay court season
It has been his best clay court season to date, and he is wearing the mantle of British No. 1 well.
He said: “I have had some good wins recently in the Masters, and, yeah, it wasn’t a bad tournament here, a couple of good wins and a tough loss against a quality player and reached my first final. So, you have to say I have won more matches this year on the clay than I have before. You have to say I’m improving.
“I think it’s the same always, there is always good things and there is always stuff to learn, get better at. That’s just a continued development thing. Yeah, no different, really. Just happy with some things and some things I can for sure get better, like I think most players will say a similar thing.
“It’s obviously now the attention goes into the grass and what I learned from last year, and how I can get better in that way.”
Two of those wins came against very solid clay court players, David Goffin and Novak Djokovic, so how frustrating was it not to quite get over the line against a player who can (and did) go off the boil, like Fognini?
“You can’t expect to play Mach 10 all the time and hit the highs. It’s unrealistic to think that, that you’re going to play at your best all the time, so you have to deal with what you have. Some parts today I was pretty good and some parts today I gave away.
“That’s why you have to be realistic and deal with what you have, deal with what you have at that time. It’s close, I’m sure the points were close. And I had break points in the fifth, just couldn’t get them, and when he had his break points he obviously did. The margin is always very small. And I have won some tight matches this year for sure and this one is a close one I have lost.”
Preparations for the grass
Having failed to make it into the second week, there is now plenty of time for Edmund to reset, both in terms of a long clay court season and the extra physical and mental wear and tear from a Grand Slam event, but also for the change of surface in a very short turnaround.
“I’m sure I will have a bit of a break. It’s normal after I guess the end of a surface season or end of a Grand Slam, just take a bit of down time to rest up mentally, physically, whatever way you want to look at it, and, yeah, just get ready to go again.
“It’s pretty much two weeks to obviously Queen’s. In that time, we plan to train and have enough rest and get the balance right, and, yeah, sort of schedule everything in. But, yeah, I’ll have a bit of a rest, and at some point, obviously start practicing on the grass.”
The Fever Tree Championships at Queen’s Club will take place between 18-24 June.
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