French Open: Kyle Edmund loses five-set thriller to Kevin Anderson in third round

Kyle Edmund was playing in the French Open third round for a first time (Photo: PA)
Kyle Edmund was playing in the French Open third round for a first time (Photo: PA)
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Kyle Edmund was edged out in a five-set battle against Kevin Anderson in the third round of the French Open.

The British number two led by two sets to one but Anderson proved just too strong in the end, winning 6-7 (6/8) 7-6 (7/4) 5-7 6-1 6-4 after three hours and 59 minutes.

Edmund let a two sets to one lead slip (Photo: PA)

Edmund let a two sets to one lead slip (Photo: PA)

Edmund can take much encouragement from his performance and his run here, with straight-sets victories over Gastao Elias and Renzo Olivo to reach the third round for the first time.

But it will be a frustration to the 22-year-old that this was another close match where he came away just second best.

Anderson is ranked seven places below Edmund at 56 but is a much better player than that.

He broke into the top 10 after beating Andy Murray at the US Open two years ago before injuries struck and is working his way back up.

The 31-year-old is one of the tallest players on tour at 6ft 8in and has a serve to match.

Edmund got nowhere near it in the opening set but still won the set thanks to a confident and mature display.

Anderson tried to keep the ball away from the young Briton's thumping forehand but found the backhand just as lethal.

One searing backhand pass at 6-6 in the tie-break set up a second set point for Edmund, which he took when Anderson dumped a forehand in the net.

The South African had taken a medical time-out at 5-4 to have more tape added to an already heavily-strapped left thigh.

It did not appear to affect him, though, and it was Anderson who played a much more solid tie-break after a second set that did not feature a single break point.

Anderson had been closer to a break in the opening set and he had five break points in Edmund's first four service games of the third.

But the Yorkshireman stood firm each time and then pounced when he finally created an opening on the Anderson serve at 5-5.

Having worked so hard to get his nose back in front, Edmund won just eight points in a fourth set that lasted only 26 minutes.

But the 22-year-old hung in very well when under pressure early in the decider, fighting back from 0-40 to hold for 3-2.

Anderson was pushing hard, though, and Edmund was helpless when the South African drilled a backhand down the line to break for 5-4.

Ultimately it was Anderson's serve that made the difference, with a final tally of 24 aces for the 31-year-old and 65 winners.