A hard court lesson for Kyle Edmund

Pospisil VasekPospisil Vasek of Canada celebrates his win over Kyle Edmund of Great Britain during the first round of men's singles for ATP Chennai Open 2014 in Chennai on Monday. PTI

Kyle Edmund is the 376th ranked tennis player in the world. A few facts back the South African-born Brit's low ranking. For one, he is still in his teens. Two, he was granted entry into the Chennai Open main draw with a wildcard. And three, a point made loud and clear during his introduction on Nungambakkam's centre court, Edmund has never played a professional match on a hardcourt before.

But here's the catch. Kyle Edmund does not play like the 376th ranked tennis player in the world. Nor does he physically look it.

Over the course of the 81-minute match against Vasek Pospisil, a man ranked 344 places above him, Edmund used his 6' 3'' frame to great effect. With muscular arms, he fired down 200 plus kmph serves aplenty. And if and when those serves came back, Edmund would spread his tree-trunk sized chest and thump it back harder and faster. All this caused the fifth seed a whole lot of physical and emotional pain.

Two shirt changes, three double faults, four foot faults, five wrong challenges and countless unforced errors had Pospisil questioning his game. Yet, the 23-year old Canadian, one of the biggest movers up the rankings in 2013, emerged victorious in straight sets 6-3, 7-5. Why? Because unlike Edmund, who found his range as the game progressed, Pospisil struck twice when it mattered. Right at the beginning and right at the end.

Slow start

Edmund was down 3-0 in about three minutes, winning a sum total of three points until that moment. The sparse but noisy crowd present in the terraces didn't blame him. They were told well in advance that he had no experience on this surface whatsoever. But 3-0, with Pospisil serving first, was still just the matter of one break of serve. And boy was Pospisil glad that he had broken his opponent early.

... contd.

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