Yorkshire’s highly-rated tennis star Kyle Edmund can break new ground in his burgeoning career at Roland Garros today.
The big-hitting 22-year-old faces South African Kevin Anderson for a place in the second week at the French Open for the first time in his career.
A victory would further enhance Edmund’s status as one of the game’s emerging talents and put him into the last 16 of a slam for the second time.
Edmund has yet to drop a set in Paris although Anderson will be his first opponent of elite class having previously reached a world ranking high of 10.
World No 1 Andy Murray also faces a tricky assignment in round three against Argentine powerhouse Juan Martin del Potro, who the Scot beat to win gold at the Olympic Games in Rio last year. Should both Britons progress, it would be the first time Britain has had two players in the fourth round of the French in the Open era.
Edmund, ranked 49, has shown why he is one of tennis’s hottest talents with convincing wins over unheralded pair Gastao Elias, of Portugal, and Argentina’s Ronzo Olivo in this year’s tournament.
There’s no point in having a shot like that and not using it. I’ve got to use it, I’ve got to keep taking the initiative to bully players with it when I can.Kyle Edmund
The Beverley player has found his range with his brutish forehand, which has allowed him to dominate from the back of the court.
“I’ve got to be aggressive, use the court space well with it,” said Edmund. “That’s my game.
“There’s no point in having a shot like that and not using it. I’ve got to use it, I’ve got to keep taking the initiative to bully players with it when I can.”
Edmund’s dominant style has caught the eye of several pundits and commentators around the world and US Davis Cup captain Jim Courier – an on-court interviewer – labelled him a future top-ten player.
“It’s nice to hear someone like Jim say that,” said Edmund. “He’s been around the game a long time.
“People have thrown different numbers around, and it’s nice to hear that stuff.
“But that’s down to me to do that and to put the work in. It doesn’t just happen overnight to get top ten. It has to come from winning matches and beating good players to be top ten.
“I’m not going to get too ahead of myself. I have to keep going about my process and I want to get to the top of the game one day. So, for sure, I know what needs to be done.”
Big-serving Anderson is attempting to reach the fourth round in Paris for a third time after back-to-back runs to the second week in 2013 and 2014.
The 31-year-old knocked out controversial Australian Nick Kyrgios in round two as the latter suffered a spectacular meltdown on court.
Kyrgios, seeded 18th, smashed a racket and asked a supporter for a beer as he imploded from a set and a break up to lose 5-7 6-4 6-1 6-2.
Edmund has never faced Anderson, who has slipped down to 56 in the world rankings, but he is aware of the sizeable threat posed by the 6ft 8ins South African.
Anderson’s style has drawn comparisons to American John Isner, who Edmund beat in the third round at the US Open last year.
“It’s a different situation with the surface,” said Edmund.
“Isner statistically gets more cheap points on his serve, but Anderson has still got a great serve and good ‘groundies’.
“He was out a bit with injury, but before he went out, he was consistent at the top of the game and getting good results.
“He’s obviously got a big game, is a big guy. It’s hot conditions so the ball is really pinging around.”
A win over Anderson would boost Edmund’s ATP ranking points tally over the 1,000 point mark and move him into the top 40 for the first time.
The right-hander is already projected to climb eight places in Monday’s latest rankings while a quarter-final appearance could put him among the seeds for Wimbledon next month. A coveted place in the top 32 would protect him against playing other top-ranked players until round three in slams. Such a rise would draw more eyes to his game, but Edmund said he is already feeling attention heating up.
“If you have good slams, runs like I did at the US Open last year, people don’t ignore that. They know it, and they would have seen how I play.
“With anyone who does well, you see them coming through, you’re going to take notice of them. It’s only like me seeing other players and watching how they play and what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
Murray v Del Potro: Page 5