Ed White: Kyle Edmund kicking himself as Novak Djokovic suffers shock defeat
A few hours later that defeat for the Beverley player was compounded as he watched Dennis Istomin arch his back and scream with sheer delight on the Rod Laver Arena.
Istomin’s shock victory over six-time champion Novak Djokovic – following a four-and-a-half hour classic - sent a shockwave through the men’s draw as the unheralded Uzbekistanian set up a third-round encounter with Edmund’s conqueror Pablo Carreno Busta, and made Andy Murray a firm favourite for a first title in Melbourne.
With Djokovic’s exit, it goes without saying that Istomin against Carreno Busta is not the third-round tie that had been anticipated.
When the Australian Open draw was announced last week, the potential of a third-round encounter between Britain’s No 2 and the defending champion was mouthwatering for the Yorkshireman.
Edmund had lost to Djokovic in the fourth round at the US Open in August and the potential rematch in Melbourne was another step in the right direction for the young man.
The 22-year-old’s commanding performance over Santiago Giraldo in round one heightened that thought-process, too.
But a lacklustre and error-strewn display against the sturdy presence of Carreno Busta reminded us that the Yorkshireman is still a raw talent, lacking experience.
His feared forehand, one of the fastest weapons in the game, was unusually off-colour while his service motion looked uncomfortable in the midday sun.
And while the forehand began to tick in the second set, 25-year-old Carreno Busta, seeded 30th, hit the lines on serve at the right times and plugged away against Edmund’s weaker backhand wing.
The straight-sets defeat is out of line with what has been a upwards curve for Edmund over the last two years.
To put it into perspective though, Edmund should not be too disappointed. His first-round win over Giraldo banished memories of a cramp-ridden defeat 12 months ago and in making the the second round for a first time, he will add to his haul of ranking points.
But Thursday’s limp display does represent a rare missed opportunity in his rapid rise up the rankings. And one he will want to put right during the run of Masters Series tournaments prior to the French Open in May.