Open journey gives Edmund desire to return

Kyle Edmund of Britain makes a backhand return to Steve Johnson of the U.S. during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Kyle Edmund of Britain makes a backhand return to Steve Johnson of the U.S. during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
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Kyle Edmund departed Melbourne with a vow to improve his service and return game after suffering a straight sets defeat in the first round of the Australian Open.

It was the 20-year-old from Beverley’s first appearance in the main draw of a grand slam on merit, after he fought through three rounds of qualifying last week.

But the world No 192 came unstuck against a player ranked 38th in Steve Johnson, who won 6-4 6-4 6-3.

Edmund, who will now head to Hong Kong for a Challenger event, said: “I felt I did not play too badly but came up against a very good opponent who was serving very well and I was not quite able to get into his service games.

“There was not much rhythm in the match because it was tough to get into points. My serve has definitely improved but (yesterday) it came in and out so I need to be more consistent and also work on my returns.

“It’s been a good experience to win three matches in qualifying so I just need to move forward with it and keep improving.”

Edmund was not the only Briton beaten.

Both James Ward and Heather Watson were beaten on a day which left former finalist Andy Murray – who was taking on Australian Marinko Matosevic in the second round overnight – as the sole home interest left in the competition.

Ward won the opening set against 31st seed Fernando Verdasco and – after losing the second 6-0 – was a break up in the third on court seven.

However, the British No 2 was then broken back and was unable to convert a set point in the tie-break, eventually losing it 8-6 as Spaniard Verdasco raised his game at the crucial moment.

The writing was on the wall when he lost his serve in the opening game of the fourth set on his way to a 2-6 6-0 7-6 (8/6) 6-3 defeat.

An apparently unwell Watson crashed out 6-4 6-0 to Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova.

Watson came into the year’s first slam on the back of winning the second WTA Tour title of her career in Hobart on Saturday, but as she lost three of her first four service games it became apparent she was not 100 per cent.