Kyle Edmund scores first Wimbledon win, becomes fifth Briton into Round 2
Kyle Edmund beats fellow Brit Alex Ward in four sets to set up a second-round clash with Gael Monfils at Wimbledon
This year’s Wimbledon began with a healthy 12 British singles players in contention in the main draw, and by the end of the first round, five remain standing to try their luck in the second round as well.
No surprise, of course, that world No1 and defending champion Andy Murray sailed through—and for the loss of only seven games.
No surprise either that the No6 seed Johanna Konta advanced for the loss of just four games.
The No58 ranked Aljaz Bedene thrilled the home crowd with an impressive performance over No21 seed Ivo Karlovic in as tight a contest as anyone could wish: four tie breaks before Bedene scored the only break of the match to win 8-6 in the fifth.
Heather Watson performed to her former top-40 level, belying her wild card status and current 102 ranking, to advance in straight sets, but now faces the considerably bigger task of No18 seed Anastasija Sevastova.
Fellow wild cards did not fare so well, however.
After Laura Robson, Cameron Norrie, and Naomi Broady lost on Monday, James Ward also went down to Marcos Baghdatis.
Ward has slumped in the rankings in the last year following a long-standing knee injury, and only made his return on home grass, beginning in Surbiton. But this was his fifth straight loss, and he afterwards talked of how difficult it has been to return to the main-stream after so long away.
“I didn’t expect to be off for as long, and obviously it was gutting. It was nine months. It’s difficult. You can’t just come back in. I feel like I’m practising well, training well, and then you get out on the match court and it’s different. There is only so much training you can do. You have to be playing matches and on the grass it was difficult.
“I haven’t [played] any guys that you would say are not really grass courters so you can feel your way in, maybe get one or two matches and get a bit of confidence.”
Katie Boulter, making her Grand Slam debut, put up a sterling fight for her first match at Wimbledon, losing out to the much higher-ranking and more experienced Christina McHale, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Another wild card, Bryden Klein, the world number 232, took last week’s Antalya champion, the No44 ranked Yuichi Sugita, to a tie-breaker in the first set, but his challenge waned to a 6-3, 6-0 loss after just over two hours, his problems exacerbated by a fall late in the second set.
But there was more good British news from the No50-ranked Kyle Edmund, even if it was at the expense of fellow Brit Alexander Ward, who earned his place in the first round via qualifying.
The 27-year-old Ward, ranked 869, put up a tough fight from the start, getting a quick break for a 2-0 lead, an advantage he held through to the set, 6-4.
But from then on, Edmund showed his superior class with three swift sets for the loss of only six more games, tied up neatly in two hours.
Edmund was pragmatic afterwards about the slow start:
“I lost my opening game. Happens in tennis. But best-of-five-set match, so losing your serve doesn’t mean you’re going to lose a match. It’s a long match, long momentum swings as well… I just tried to use the experience I have, stay calm.
“It was nice I was able to play some good tennis at the end, get through it basically.”
The win marked an important step for Edmund, too. In his last four appearances at Wimbledon, he had lost in the first round: This was his first victory.
“Because you’re British, it’s the one tournament you want to do well in more than any other tournament, I guess.
“To actually say that I’ve won one now is nice to say, in a professional tennis point of view. I mean, it’s just one match. It’s important not to get so high from the win. You try not to get so low from a loss. But it’s definitely nice to do it. I’ve had enough losses, so it’s nice to actually win a match in a senior event now.”
Things, though, get a whole lot harder in the next round where he meets the No15 seed Gael Monfils, who beat German qualifier, Daniel Brands, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
Also in this bottom quarter of the draw, there was an important win for David Ferrer, who plays here unseeded. It is 12 years since the 35-year-old Spaniard has been unseeded for a Major, and this is his 58th Major in a row. Until today, he had won only eight matches to 13 losses in 2017, suffering a rare loss of form and confidence for one of the hardest workers on the tour.
No wonder, then, that he showed a rare burst of emotion in celebration of this victory, for it was against the No22 seed, Richard Gasquet, who was bidding to win his 100th Major match today. The Frenchman reached the semis in both Halle and Eastbourne before arriving at the All England Club, but could not hold off Ferrer, who won 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2, after almost three hours.
Ferrer next plays Steve Darcis, who came back from two sets to one down to beat Ricardas Berankis, 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.