The US Open has provided an unexpected glimpse into the future for British tennis.
So long used to Andy Murray, and recently Johanna Konta, being a constant presence late into grand slams, after day one at Flushing Meadows the only British players through to round two were Cameron Norrie and Yorkshire’s Kyle Edmund.
Murray did not even make the start-line because of his troublesome hip and, at 30, serious questions must now be raised about his long-term future.
In three or four years, or perhaps much sooner, Edmund and Norrie are likely to be leading the British challenge in the men’s game.
Edmund, the British No 2 and world No 42, has thought about the days when the spotlight will shine more brightly.
His achievements already make him one of the leading British men of the last 30 years but the bar has been significantly raised by Murray.
“It’s not something you think about deeply, you’re just aware of it,” said Edmund, from Beverley.
“I’m aware Andy’s not going to be around forever, he’s going to stop before I stop.
“I guess I’m now the next one in the rankings.
“I think Andy will still play for a few more years so I’ve still got time and when it comes to it, it just comes to it.
I guess I’m now the next one in the rankings. I think Andy will still play for a few more years so I’ve still got time and when it comes to it, it just comes to it.Kyle Edmund
“I don’t think I’m going to change because of that scenario, just more people have more opinions, that’s what I’ve learned. That’s the nature of the world and you’ve just got to take what you want from that.”
Edmund and Norrie are both 22 and, such is the international nature of sport these days, both were born across the other side of the world in Johannesburg.
Edmund moved to Britain as a toddler, with his parents settling in East Yorkshire, while Norrie has taken a more circuitous route.
His family chose New Zealand after deeming South Africa too dangerous and Norrie grew up in Auckland, where he got into tennis by playing squash with his Scottish father and Welsh mother and might have been a cricketer.
“I chose tennis because I thought cricket was just too boring fielding,” he said. “I was actually better at cricket than tennis for a little bit.”
With his tennis avenues limited by geography, the confident left-hander chose to use his British passport and moved to London aged 16.
The shock of full-time tennis put him off the sport for a while but his passion was reignited at university in Texas and he was the leading college player in the United States when he turned professional in May.
Norrie is some way behind Edmund at 225 in the rankings but has made rapid strides and will climb inside the top 200 after qualifying in New York and then posting his first grand slam victory when Dmitry Tursunov retired.
The pair are not entirely alone. Aljaz Bedene, who is just behind Edmund in the rankings, had his first-round match held over until today.
But he is already 28 and, given his desire to play at the Olympics and current ineligibility to represent Britain at the Games or in the Davis Cup, must surely have to consider reverting to his native Slovenia at some point.
It remains to be seen whether 27-year-old Dan Evans will return to the sport after what is likely to be a lengthy ban following his positive test for cocaine while, at the other end of the age scale, 19-year-old Jay Clarke has shown very promising signs.
But, with Murray’s fitness problems, it is Edmund and Norrie who could well line up for Britain at next year’s Davis Cup opener in February.
The pair are friends and Edmund has been impressed by his compatriot’s swift progress.
“He’s done really well and to qualify is great,” he said. “You feel good and to win your first grand slam match ... I remember winning my first grand slam match and it’s a great feeling.
“He seems to just be getting better coming from college. We get on really well and it’s just good to have more Brits at tournaments. We’re probably the youngest two so potentially in Davis Cup we’ll be playing together.”
Both will be back on court later today, Edmund, who reached the fourth round last year, taking on American Steve Johnson and Norrie facing a tough task against 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.
Norrie, though, sees it as a good opportunity, saying in his unique Kiwi-via-Texas accent: “I actually like it.
“He’s going to give me some rhythm, he’s not going to serve me off the court. I can play my own game and feel comfortable.
“Obviously he’s a great player and it’s going to be really tough but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”