Ambitious Kyle Edmund has further room to improve – Greg Rusedski

Kyle Edmund. Andrew Milligan/PA.

Kyle Edmund. Andrew Milligan/PA.

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When Yorkshire viewers tune into the Australian Open, they may find themselves captivated by a new local hero.

The most notable moment of Kyle Edmund’s career so far, his role in Great Britain’s Davis Cup victory, could go down as little more than a footnote. However, tennis aficionados will have taken note of the Beverley-raised 21-year-old, not least because of his fearsome forehand.

Greg Rusedski.

Greg Rusedski.

That aspect of his play had Belgian No 1 David Goffin on the ropes for 70 minutes in Ghent, but inexperience meant Edmund was unable to turn his two-set lead into a victory.

He has clearly bounced back from that setback, winning the Tie Break Tens tournament at the Royal Albert Hall before reaching his first ATP quarter-final against Tomas Berdych in Doha earlier this month.

There are few people who know Edmund better than Greg Rusedski, and Edmund’s first-round opponent Damir Dzumhur would do well to take note of his thoughts.

The former British No 1 and current television analyst assumed the role of coach to Edmund in April 2014. While they split amicably only six months later, the 42-year-old clearly holds Edmund in high regard.

Rusedksi, whose eligibility to represent England came from his Dewsbury-born mother, has long considered the talented Edmund to be the future of British tennis.

“I have known Kyle since he was about 15 years of age,” he exclusively told The Yorkshire Post.

“I got to know him during the Junior Davis Cup. I always felt he was our best prospect from a young age, because he worked very hard, he was committed, he wanted to learn. He had a good attitude on the court and he was brave and bold. When he played, he was aggressive and would go after it.

“He’s a very nice kid. He works hard. He is a man now, he just turned 21 last week on January 8, so I think we are all very excited from a British point of view with him doing so well.

“He got his call-up for the Davis Cup, where he played two brilliant sets but unfortunately it did not go as well overall. He has bounced back very well by getting to his first quarter-finals in Doha where he lost to Tomas Berdych, so we are all very excited about his prospects.”

Johannesburg-born Edmund’s progression over the last year has been clear. He hit his highest ever position in the ATP rankings on January 11, rising to No 88. Rusedski was entirely unsurprised, having tipped Edmund for the top 100 over a year ago. He is also convinced that his former protege will move up even higher this calendar year if he keeps improving.

“This is what I said when I started working with him: ‘I expect by the end of this year, 2015, to be top 100’,” he recalled.

“And he was – he got to 99 and finished the year at 102.

“This year I would expect him to get top 50.

“From there, we will see what happens with his game.

“I feel as though there are some areas that he needs to improve on if he is going to get on to a higher level than that. He has taken a stepping stone. He has great potential for the future.

“He needs to hit top 50, and then when you hit top 50 it is top 30, top 20 and so forth. You always have to keep improving in your game technically. Physically, you always have to get stronger and there are improvements to be had mentally and tactically.”

They only worked together for half a year, but Rusedski is keenly aware of Edmund’s strengths, while highlighting areas for the 6ft2 star to improve.

“One of his strong points is his forehand. He likes to build his play around his forehand. That’s the key. I think physically he has got stronger,” he continued.

“I think he has to keep working on the transition coming forward, working on the returns and improving his serve. He has to keep improving those three areas, working with his new coach Ryan Jones.”

Rusedski also highlighted the potential influence of the British No 1.

“Having Andy Murray there in the off-season in Dubai will only help,” he added. “There’s a lot of scope for him to improve, already being at 88 in the world.

“That’s always a great sign. If there’s nothing for him to work on, then you are limited to a certain extent. If you can get those areas better and keep on improving then obviously he will keep on climbing up the rankings.”

That relationship with Murray was strengthened by their involvement in the Davis Cup last year. To have such an experience at such a young age could only help Edmund’s development, especially as he is still inexperienced for his age in tennis terms.

Edmund only began playing tennis at the age of 10 after initially excelling at cricket and swimming, having moved to the village of Tickton in East Yorkshire from South Africa.

By 13 he was picked up by a tennis academy in the south of the country, and he soon moved to the Lawn Tennis Association’s National Training Centre in Roehampton. Rusedski was keen to point out how much of an impact the various experienced heads around Edmund will have.

Asked about the benefits of the Davis Cup win, Rusedski said: “It’s great. There are very few players who can say they won the Junior Davis Cup along with the real Davis Cup, as I like to call it.

“Having the off-season in Dubai with Andy helped in terms of really seeing what it takes to be the second-best player on the planet, how much harder you have to keep on improving.

“Also, having won the Tie Break Tens tournament at the Albert Hall, that takes a bit of pressure off him as financially that really allows him to add to his team. I think being around Murray is only going to help.

“For myself and him, we were very lucky to have Stefan Edberg living in London, the former coach of Roger Federer – the six-time Grand Slam champion –around to help us out. That’s always a benefit for a youngster coming through.”

The Australian Open is LIVE and exclusive only on Eurosport. Coverage starts at midnight on Sunday 
January 17.

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