US Open 2016: Kyle Edmund beats No13 Richard Gasquet for first New York win
The 21-year-old completes an upset in first round of US Open after a straight sets win over 13th seed Richard Gasquet
Kyle Edmund, who reached a career-high No67 in July, scored a career-best win over a Frenchman at Queen’s this summer, beating No18 Gilles Simon in three tough sets.
But that was grass and it was on home soil. Today, Edmund scored a still bigger win over another Frenchman, the 15-ranked Richard Gasquet, and in an extraordinarily straightforward manner, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
It marked his first ever main-draw win at the US Open and his only Round 2 progress at a Grand Slam outside the clay of Roland Garros. That he next faces the 201-ranked 20 year old wild card, Ernesto Escobedo, means that he also has a more than good opportunity to take another step forward into his first Major third round.
Gasquet has suffered a catalogue of injury problems this year, missing Barcelona with a rib injury, the Toronto Masters with an abdominal strain, and Doha and the Australian Open with what has been a recurrent problem over the years, his back.
Indeed he looked ashen in his fourth-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Wimbledon, pulling out after just six games, and he did not play again until Cincinnati a fortnight ago. Yet he refused to put his under-par performance on a baking Court 5 in front of a huge and vocal crowd, down to any injury:
“No problem, no excuse about [my back]. I’m not physically so well, didn’t play so much, so difficult for me to play.”
He added of the sweltering conditions:
“It was tough but the same for both players. I’m not in great form at all… I’m not very good, but he played well.”
Indeed he was full of praise, and rightly so, for Edmund, whose huge forehand and serving wrecked havoc:
“No, not surprised how well Kyle played. I knew how good he is. He deserved it, played well, will be very good in the future.”
Certainly there were plenty of nods of approval from the hundreds watching, as winner after winner punctuated the first half-hour set. Edmund opened with a love hold and three forehand winners, and broke in the fourth game to crank the tally up to seven. Three aces took it to 4-1, and Edmund continued to ply the back corners, now down the line, now stepping back for an off-winner, and Gasquet could not pick up the direction at all.
Edmund broke again for the set, 6-2, and then broke in the second set for 4-2. A serve winner held for 5-2, and he broke a lack-lustre Gasquet for the set, 6-2.
By now he had made 26 winners to 13 errors, but the Frenchman was about to change things up after an extended break from the court.
Gasquet tried mixing his shots, held off two break points, and broke in the third game. However, Edmund held to love with two aces for 2-3, and he broke back with the Briton’s best shot to date, a running forehand pass down the line.
Gasquet would not win another game, as Edmund this time broke with an off backhand winner and served the match out with his 10th ace.
He admitted afterwards:
“I definitely played better than I expected today… on ranking, I think it’s my best ever win. Lot of things went well. Very encouraging—I thought I was smart with the way I played.”
At 21, Edmund is one of the ATP #NextGen players, and while some of his younger colleagues have already broken the top 50, Edmund has gone about his development at a steadier but assured pace. He is a big, quietly-spoken man who has drawn on the guidance and advice of Andy Murray during their successful Davis Cup run of last year and this. Indeed Edmund stepped up to the plate in Serbia after Wimbledon this summer to win both singles rubbers in straight sets in a tie that lacked both Novak Djokovic and Murray.
This year has seen progress in incremental but positive steps: his first quarter-finals in Doha and Queen’s; a first Masters match-win in Miami; two Challenger titles from three finals.
It is a sign that his confidence is growing. He talked before the tournament of the value of competition with fellow Brits Aljaz Bedene, ranked 77, and Dan Evans, ranked 64, both of whom are also in the main draw here.
“I think it’s good from a British point of view that there are more people inside the top 100, but although there is competition there, at the same time we’re competing over rankings of 60 to 80…
“If we were competing around the 10-30 rankings I think that would be a much bigger deal. So I’m not looking at it like that. At the moment I’m British No4. I want to be ranked, say, world No20, and if I’m then British No2 or No3, that’s a great position to be in.”
He certainly impressed both American fans sat alongside this Briton: “He’s a good player!”
Today, there was no arguing with that.
Evans and Bedene begin their campaigns tomorrow, along with world No2 Murray.