French Open 2019

French Open 2019: Kyle Edmund retires against Cuevas; Dominic Thiem wins 50th Major match

Edmund suffered six first-round losses this season until winning marathon opener at Roland Garros

Kyle Edmund
Kyle Edmund (Photo: Marianne Bevis)

After a spirited four-hour plus match of five sets spread across two days, Kyle Edmund’s victory over Jeremy Chardy would be his only win at this year’s Roland Garros.

In his second match, he took on 33-year-old Pablo Cuevas, ranked 47, whose six titles and three more finals have all come on clay, most recently in Estoril this year.

The single-hander from Uruguay beat Maxime Janvier, 6-4, 6-4 6-2, in a scant hour and a half in his first match, rather different, then, from the long-drawn-out match that Edmund and Chardy had endured. So it was always going to be a test for the Briton against the clay-court expert.

Sure enough, Cuevas pressed Edmund hard from the start, breaking to take a 3-0 lead. But the Briton dug in well, broke back, and he took it to a tie-break. But the all-court tactics of the single-hander was playing havoc with Edmund’s rhythm, and Cuevas sealed the set after almost an hour with relative ease, 7-6(3).

The two stayed on level terms at the start of the second set, but after a hold for 3-2 by Edmund, Cuevas began to take control. He broke twice for a run of four games, 6-3, in a half-hour set, and it soon became clear that Edmund was in physical trouble. Three games into the third set, he called for the trainer, and after a brief discussion that indicated he had a knee problem again, he took no treatment before shaking Cuevas’s hand.

Edmund has suffered from a knee injury for much of this year, and withdrew from Sydney, Rotterdam and Marseille though the first sign of knee injury came with his withdrawal from the Paris Masters last October

When he did return, he continued to struggle with form, especially with the switch to clay. Indeed his opening win here was his first after four first-round losses, and his shortest stay in Paris since he made the second round in 2016.

Needless to say, it was a subdued Edmund who came to press. On whether he would need another break to recover, he was uncertain:

“I don’t know. I mean, obviously hope not. I’ll try and do everything I can. But, it’s not like ‘this is what you got to do, this is how you’re going to get fixed, or this is the time’. It’s just things are a lot more complex like that with the body. There’s no right formula to fix things or get things better.

“Some days it feels OK. Some days it’s a little bit worse. Can fluctuate between tournaments or weeks. It just all depends. The body is very complex. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense what happens and it can be hard to predict.”

He now plans to return to London to get some preparatory time on grass:

“A small downside to going out early in this Slam is you get more time on grass, and for sure I’ll use it to train: try and get my body right is the priority right now… And obviously look to train, but also look at ways I can avoid or stop getting hurt as much as I am.”

Cuevas will next play No4 seed Dominic Thiem, the runner-up here last year.

Thiem came through his second tough four-setter against Alexander Bublik, 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-3, 7-5, after two and a half hours, to score his 50th Major match-win.

Thiem was afterwards invited to speak in French to the Philippe Chatrier court: He promised last year that he would learn some French from his tennis-playing girlfriend, Kiki Mladenovic, before this year. But he declined for now, with:

“Only if I win the next game will I try some French words.”

He will be favoured to beat fellow single-hander Cuevas, though in their only previous match at Roland Garros, Cuevas won. Thiem has subsequently won their three clay matches.

Elsewhere, another seed tumbled to a single-hander when the carried-over match between No17 Diego Schwartzman and Leonardo Mayer resolved in the unseeded man’s favour, 4-6 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.

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