Kyle Edmund celebrates Doha win and main-draw place at Australian Open
Kyle Edmund beat Slovakia's Martin Klizan in Doha after booking his place in the main draw of the Australian Open
The upward trajectory of British No3 Kyle Edmund that took him inside the top 100 for the first time last November, and earned him a deserved place in the final Davis Cup line-up for Great Britain against Belgium, has continued into 2016.
Currently ranked No102, the 20-year-old Briton originally missed the cut for the main draw of the Australian Open by just three places, but since the start-list was announced in mid-December, three withdrawals by higher ranked players have catapulted him above the cut-off point.
First came Juan Monaco, who has been absent from the tour since last July following wrist surgery.
Then came a more unexpected announcement on Christmas Eve from 19-year-old Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, saying that he needed minor surgery on his shoulder. He went on: “I won’t be able to play any of the events in Australia this summer. I was really pumped for the Aussie summer, and looking forward to playing in Adelaide, Brisbane and especially the Aussie Open, so I’m pretty devastated I’ll miss my favourite events of the year.”
Then ahead of New Year came news that world No9 Richard Gasquet had also withdrawn from the Australian swing with a recurrence of his back problems.
This sequence of disappointments has promoted Edmund directly into his first Australian main draw after reaching the first round via qualifying last year.
More good news, this time of Edmund’s own making, has swiftly followed. His first tournament of 2016 is the high-profile, high-quality Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, with a field dominated by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Edmund worked his way through two rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw, and has now scored the biggest scalp of his career with an impressive 6-2, 6-3 win over world No43 Martin Klizan.
It marks only Edmund’s third main-draw match-win, and sets up what is another winnable match over 33-year-old No75, Daniel Munoz De La Nava, who was the surprise winner over No5 seed, Feliciano Lopez.
Should Edmund indeed reach the quarter-finals, he is likely to meet No3 seed Tomas Berdych, and as if that were not daunting enough, he is also in the Djokovic half of the draw.
Edmund has every reason to feel optimistic about what lies ahead, even if his chances of going deep in Doha are slim. Few who watched him open GB’s Davis Cup title bid in Ghent at the end of November will forget the quality he brought to bear in taking a two sets to love lead over David Goffin—even though he ultimately lost in five.
The GB squad, of course, went on to score a confidence-boosting victory, and little more than a week later, Edmund added a huge financial boost to his cause as well when he won the inaugural playing of the TieBreak Tens event at the Albert Hall—pounding his serve and forehand to great effect against Andy Murray to claim the biggest purse of his life, a cool quarter-million dollars.
Edmund could do worse than listen to his senior Davis Cup colleague, too, on how to use his earnings. Murray quickly told him: “Invest in the good people around you and the rest will take care of itself.”
However, if Edmund wanted one more boost to his bulging Christmas stocking, it came from John McEnroe after the veteran American had seen Edmund play in London:
“He’s made some great progress. He’s a better athlete than I thought, his backhand was more solid, he’s got a huge forehand, he pops that serve, and he rose to the occasion. He’s got huge upside.”
Talent, cash, plus a bit of luck should, then, help Edmund back inside the top 100 in no time, and earning direct entry to his next Major in his own right.
Andy Murray and Heather Watson won their opening tie in the round-robin team event in Perth against France. Murray won his singles match with ease, Watson lost a closely-fought three-setter against the higher-ranked Caroline Garcia, before the Britons joined forces in mixed doubles to win the decider.