British men’s No 1 Kyle Edmund crashed out of the Australian Open in the first round but there were wins for Dan Evans and Katie Boulter in Melbourne yesterday.
Edmund, 24, from Beverely, reached the semi-finals last year but will not get the chance to repeat the feat after a 6-3 6-0 7-5 defeat to Tomas Berdych which is set to drop him out of the world’s top 20. Edmund, the 13th seed, showed evidence that he is still suffering from a knee problem and was never really in the match against the experienced Czech, who has a strong record in the tournament.
Edmund called the result a “reality check” and admitted: “It just shows where I am at the moment, my level and stuff, and how much and where I have to improve.
“I’ve still got lots of years to play so obviously I’m confident I’ll be playing at a good standard again, but you’re always itching and competitive to get things done immediately.
“You just have to have patience and give stuff time to get better, including my game. I’ve lost matches when I’m fully fit, so I have to work on lots of things to get back up there.”
Evans set up a second-round meeting with Roger Federer after winning his first main draw match at a grand slam in two years with a 7-5 6-1 7-6 win over Tatsuma Ito of Japan.
The 28-year-old qualifier, who is still in the process of working his way back towards his former heights after a one-year drugs ban, is relishing the clash with Federer, who he also met in the third round of Wimbledon in 2016.
Evans said: “It’s not very often you get to play Roger on a pretty big court, so I look forward to it.
“I feel pretty good. I’m getting there slowly by the day. I think I’m more mature, but I’ve obviously got to try and be smarter on the court – like when I get a chance, to take it straight away.”
Cameron Norrie failed to build on reaching his first ATP Tour final last week as he was beaten in straight sets by Taylor Fritz.
Norrie went to Melbourne full of confidence after his run in Auckland, but lost 6-4 7-6 (6) 6-2 to the world No 50, who he had beaten in New Zealand.
Boulter claimed one of the best victories of her career with a 6-0 4-6 7-6 (6) success over Russian Ekaterina Makarova. It could have been embarrassing for the 22-year-old, who celebrated exuberantly after going 7-4 up in the tie-break – having forgotten the new rule which states final set tie-breaks are the first to 10.
Heather Watson was the first player to exit the tournament after a 6-1 6-2 loss to 31st seed Petra Martic.