Cramp is now big issue as Edmund makes exit

Beverleys Kyle Edmund on his way to a first-round defeat against Damir Dzuhmur at the Australian Open (Picture: Rafiq Maqbool/AP).Beverleys Kyle Edmund on his way to a first-round defeat against Damir Dzuhmur at the Australian Open (Picture: Rafiq Maqbool/AP).
Beverleys Kyle Edmund on his way to a first-round defeat against Damir Dzuhmur at the Australian Open (Picture: Rafiq Maqbool/AP).
YORKSHIRE'S Kyle Edmund was left confused and frustrated after another bout of cramp dashed his hopes of reaching the second round of the Australian Open.

In baking hot conditions at Melbourne Park, Edmund twice led by a set against world No 81 Damir Dzumhur, but cramp in his left leg helped the Bosnian fight back to win 1-6 7-6 (7/4) 4-6 6-3 6-1.

The British No 3 from Beverley first called the trainer after the seventh game in the third set and while he managed to serve out for a 2-1 lead, it was one-way traffic thereafter.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Edmund suffered similar problems at the Davis Cup final in November when he led Belgium’s David Goffin by two sets before cramp struck again.

“I’m disappointed with it obviously because it’s not my tennis that’s let me down. My tennis is good enough to do it, it’s my body that’s let me down,” said Edmund.

“You can’t play full out because you lose confidence in your movement and when you do move you start to cramp up again.

“It was the same situation I felt in Davis Cup where I couldn’t do anything. To beat these guys, you have to be 100 per cent. You can’t play with your body cramping. It’s frustrating.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The talented youngster, ranked 88th in the world, was able to demonstrate his impressive striking ability during a glorious first set, but this was only the third five-set match of his career and his body is yet to fully mature.

“I probably need to play more five-set matches, but you can only play them when they come round,” said Edmund.

“Hitting with Andy (Murray) for three hours, to cope you need to be in pretty decent nick and I can do that, day-in, day-out. So it shouldn’t be a reason why I’m cramping, but I am.”

Murray, who has become something of a mentor for his compatriot, also struggled with cramp early in his career, but has since developed into one of the fittest players on the tour.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It’s an option to speak to someone who has experienced this and come out the other side, who is physically robust now and doesn’t really break down,” added Edmund.

His potential is certainly not in doubt and he played like a dream in a 26-minute opening set, driving his forehand into the corners and breaking twice for the loss of just one game.

If the Yorkshireman was hoping for a swift workout, however, he would soon be disappointed as Dzumhur found his rhythm to hit back and level at one set all.

Edmund broke early in the third, but his momentum was halted at 4-3 when he first called on the trainer.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After a lengthy delay, he served out the set, but the pain was still causing trouble as the trainer again gave him treatment at the change of ends.

Wincing and clutching his knee, Edmund watched the next two sets sail by as the ruthless Dzumhur confirmed victory in three hours and 12 minutes.

“He is just 20 years old and he has such a good game,” said Dzumhur. “I’m happy that I won against such a good player and in five sets so I am even happier.”

Edmund’s compatriot Heather Watson endured defeat when victory seemed probably as the British No 2 lost to Hungary’s Timea Babos.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Watson led by a set and 5-4 and served for the match in Melbourne, but world No 60 Babos came roaring back to win a gripping contest 6-7 (4/7) 7-5 7-5.

It means Watson, ranked 79th in the world, has lost in the opening round of the tournament for the last three years in a row.

She paid tribute to her opponent’s courage on the big points, but said an abdominal injury had restricted her movement when serving for the match. “I came into the tournament with an abdominal strain, but I had been getting it taped through Hobart and the Hopman Cup,” she said.

“As soon as it got important in that 5-4 game, I felt myself get tense and when I needed my serve I couldn’t reach up and hit it.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Watson has been working with Judy Murray in Australia while she looks for a permanent coach, but while there was evidence of a more attacking strategy, she struggled to dictate the contest’s most important points.

“I thought when it got important she played well,” said Watson.

“She was the aggressor and I felt I took a step back and didn’t go for it. She played the important points a lot better than I did and that, at the end of the day, was what decided the match.”

There were, however, positives for Watson. Several drop-shots and 14 approaches to the net were testament to a more inventive approach, which may in part come from the influence of Murray.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The 23-year-old has a tendency to become embroiled in long, attritional matches and that was the case again on Court 8 as both players displayed a level of tennis above their lowly world rankings.

By the end of the first set, each had served the same number of double faults and aces, taken the same number of breaks and amassed the same total of points, but it was Watson who struck at the decisive time.

The second set was just as tight but, as Watson served for the match, nerves seemed to take hold.

Retreating into the rallies, she allowed Babos to take advantage.

The tie was in the balance at 5-5, but the Hungarian edged ahead again and needed just one match point to seal a gutsy victory.