YORKSHIRE’S Kyle Edmund carried the British flag alone into the third round of the singles at the US Open with another impressive victory.
The British No 2 gained his second straight-sets win of the tournament, defeating American Steve Johnson 7-5 6-2 7-6 (7/4) to book a third-round date with exciting young Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
Edmund said: “It’s a big one to get through. I’m very happy. I came out with my level the way it was, did what I needed to do, the tactics, controlling the match.
“The first two sets, I always felt in control. The third one was big because those key points, they’re what change matches. I played some good points when I needed to in the tie-break and I’m very happy to close it out in three.”
Edmund was joined in the second round by Cameron Norrie but his fellow 22-year-old found 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta too good, the Spaniard winning 6-2 6-4 6-3.
Aljaz Bedene, meanwhile, struggled with a knee problem as he lost his rain-delayed first-round encounter against teenage Russian Andrey Rublev 6-1 6-4 6-4.
In the absence of the injured Andy Murray, and with Johanna Konta and Heather Watson losing in round one, this is Edmund’s first experience of carrying British expectations by himself at a grand slam.
“It’s more of a shame really,” he said. “It’s not like it’s: ‘Oh, well done, you’re the last Brit’. It’s a shame that a few of us have lost early and obviously Andy was injured.
“But I guess in another way it’s good there’s some more depth in British tennis that we’re able to have other people go further.”
The Yorkshireman arrived in New York on the back of a run to the semi-finals of the Winston-Salem Open that saw him play seven matches in seven days.
He overcame fatigue to beat 32nd seed Robin Haase in round one on Monday and could take confidence from knowing he defeated Johnson just last week.
Edmund might have expected to face a hostile crowd but the stands were sparsely populated for the fifth match of the day on the temporary Louis Armstrong Stadium.
A new, permanent second court at Flushing Meadows, complete with roof, will be ready for next year’s tournament.
Confidence and growing maturity was again evident from Edmund, as it had been against Haase, and he was in control of the match throughout.
Edmund will now try to match his run of 12 months ago, when he reached the fourth round on his debut in the main draw before losing to Novak Djokovic.
He will have his work cut out, though, with 18-year-old Shapovalov following up his win against Rafael Nadal in Montreal earlier this month by knocking out Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in New York.
Edmund said: “The last two years I’ve definitely come here picking up some good form and momentum. I really feel I can be aggressive on these courts and I get rewarded. I enjoy playing here, I enjoy the surroundings and the feel of it.”
Norrie had already won four matches on his Flushing Meadows debut having come through qualifying and then defeated Dmitry Tursunov when the Russian retired.
He had his chances in the second and third sets against Carreno Busta but admitted he struggled to focus, allowing himself to be distracted by a number of disputed line calls among other things.
Norrie only turned professional in May after a stellar career in college tennis in the United States but has made swift progress and he will be ranked inside the top 200 when the standings are updated.
He will return to the second tier Challenger Tour after this but believes he is ready to play at the top level all the time.
Norrie said: “I think I’m ready now but I just need to play these matches more. I think I belong here and I can play at this level. I can take a lot of confidence from that and I can compete with these guys.”