Wimbledon enters its second week shorn of a home challenger in the singles for the first time in more than a decade but Kyle Edmund enhanced his burgeoning reputation once more.
On his least comfortable surface, the 23-year-old had the home crowd believing he could upset Novak Djokovic before the three-time Wimbledon champion roared back to win 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4.
Edmund has been all about slow and steady improvement but this season he has pressed the accelerator pedal, climbing from 50 in the rankings to 17. He is predicted to reach a new career high of 15 at the end of the tournament, although others may yet go above him.
It is certainly a major change from a year ago, when he lost comfortably in the second round to Gael Monfils and it would have taken a lot of searching to find someone tipping him as a future grand slam champion.
Edmund said: “Overall, in terms of level, it’s been a lot better for me. My game’s really improved this year. If you think back to 12 months ago, where it was, where it is now, there’s been really good improvements, which I’m pleased about.
“My movement on (grass) has been a lot better, understanding it. It’s been that constant learning process. I think overall it’s been the case with me on the grass every year I’m getting slightly better.
“The losses that I’ve had, it’s always good to learn from in each of the tournaments. I guess the good thing is it’s better and there’s room to improve, for sure. I think I put a decent level out on court.”
“He does have a quality,” said Djokovic. “He has a very good team of people around him. He has a good working ethic. He’s quiet, committed, a good guy, has a lot of respect from everyone in the locker room.
“He improved his game in the last 12 months. His backhand, we always knew forehand is a weapon, but backhand, he was making a lot of unforced errors from that end.
“He improved a lot since he started working with a new coach. He completed his game. He’s top 20. He’s going towards top 10. He’s definitely going to be a contender.”
Edmund has improved many areas of his game, particularly serve, return and movement. Against Djokovic, there were still a few too many errors and he allowed his opponent to dictate play too often after the opening set, but there was still much to be encouraged by.
Edmund will now take a few days off to recharge physically and mentally. He is currently scheduled to return to action on clay at the Croatia Open, where the tournament director is his agent Lawrence Frankopan, in a week’s time before heading across the Atlantic for the North American hard-court swing culminating in the US Open.