Wimbledon - Reg Brace: Watson wins public hearts but Edmund lacks mental edge

Great Britain's Heather Watson
Great Britain's Heather Watson
0
Have your say

What an electrifying start to the tournament!

Soaring temperatures which made Qatar seem like an Alpine retreat, five British players into the second round, the early departure of Rafael Nadal, goodbye to the defending women’s champion Petra Kvitova and the opponent she beat in last year’s final, Eugenie Bouchard.

And applause for Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook, who caught Andy Murray’s discarded wristband like a true Yorkshireman before handing it to the Duchess of Cornwall in the Royal Box.

Oh yes, it was all happening in SW19.

Plucking one performance from such an eventful week is not easy but your battle-hardened correspondent was drawn, irrevocably, to the defeat of Nadal by Dustin Brown, the dread-locked German who produced a devastating display resplendent in all that is best in the serve-volley game. Marvellous stuff.

And then there was Heather Watson.

Patriots found a new heroine in the girl from Guernsey who saved three match points in her opening match against Caroline Garcia before moving on to threaten Serena Williams in the third round.

Talent plus an irresistible smile; Wimbledon loved her.

Looking ahead, Andy Murray, a formidable contender for his second men’s title, faces the immediate prospect of taming the huge serve of Ivo Karlovic, the towering Croatian who has struck over 9,000 aces in the course of his career.

No mean task, but Murray has the equipment for the job.

Meanwhile, the master competitor of men’s tennis Novak Djokovic takes on South Africa’s Kevin Anderson.

And the sleekly unflurried Roger Federer, having defused the mighty serves of Sam Groth, the Australian, with the build of second-row rugby forward, faces Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.

To end on an unashamedly parochial note it was saddening to see Yorkshire’s Kyle Edmund miss out on the British charge into the second round.

For the third successive year the Beverley player fell at the first hurdle, this time at the hands of Alexandr Dolgopolov from the Ukraine.

Last year his executioner was Austria’s Andreas Halder-Maurer; in 2013 it was Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, at the time a largely unheralded player whbut one who would use that win over Edmund as a springboard to a run to the semi-final, where he was eventually beaten in four sets by Murray, en route to the Scot’s historic Wimbledon triumph.

Now Dolgopolov and not a set to show for three outings.

All this as Edmund, ranked 101, stands agonisingly close to entering the world’s top 100 players.

The prognosis remains the same. Edmund is a ferocious striker of the ball but tends to break down at crucial moments.

He needs to plug this possibly mental hole in an already formidable game – which is easier to say in print than to achieve on court.

At 20 , there is time to improve.

The 101 ranking does not seem to haunt him – “It’s just a number on a piece of paper,” he said.

“I’m just focussed on my game and improving each day.”

Meanwhile, it’s back to the relative obscurity of the Challenger treadmill for the battling Yorkshreman whose talent and physique deserve that elusive breakthrough.