British No. 1 Kyle Edmund having watched his favourite team Liverpool go down to Real Madrid in the Champion’s League Final on Saturday, took out his frustrations of that defeat by blasting his way through to the second round of the French Open.
His unfortunate opponent was Alex De Minaur, the 19-year-old Australian who lives with his family in Alicante.
I played well, I think I played with intent. I was very pleased with how I managed my game. I gave too many cheap points away on my serve in the second set with double faults. I'm not surprised I got broken, I deserved it. In the third set I got it back and in the end, I got the balance well. Kyle Edmund
Edmund showed his intentions from the moment they stepped on court as he blitzed the youngster and within one-hour and 56-minutes had secured a 6-2 6-4 6-3 victory that earns him a crack at Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics, the Geneva champion, on Thursday.
“Against a guy like Alex it can get quite tough easily if you don’t play well,” said Edmund afterwards. “But I managed my game really well in terms of serving and staying on the front foot.”
Edmund’s ball-striking was excellent from the start. He hit 28 winners to De Minaur’s 15, but what impressed most was his cool head. Whenever he got into any sort of difficulty Edmund retained his calm.
In contrast, De Minaur, a Leyton Hewitt protégé who actually trains with Edmund in the Bahamas, did not play the big points well under pressure.
The only time that Edmund’s serve came under threat in the opening set, was in the fourth game, when De Minaur reached break point with a bold foray forward, but his opponent served his way out of trouble.
Edmund broke again in the fifth game, failed to convert a set point in the seventh but served out to love in the eighth. He had barely put a foot wrong in the opening set but had the crowd slow-hand-clapping him after he took a lengthy toilet break before the start of the second.
Again, De Minaur was unable to convert any of the three break points he earnt early in the second set and at 2-all he dropped serve again. His frustration was evident as he smashed a ball away in anger, which earned him a code violation.
To his credit, however, De Minaur stuck to his task. On his sixth break point of the match at 3-4 the Australian finally broke when his cross-court backhand clipped the top of the net and flew beyond the Briton’s reach.
Edmund’s reaction, nevertheless, could not be faulted as he immediately broke back to 15 and then served out for the set, even if he wasted his first opportunity with his seventh double fault of the match.
The pressure on De Minaur’s serve continued at the start of the third. Edmund broke in the opening game and never looked in danger thereafter. When De Minaur served at 3-5 he was broken for the sixth time in the match when he hit a backhand long on match point.
“I played well,” Edmund said afterwards. “I think I played with intent. I was very pleased with how I managed my game. I gave too many cheap points away on my serve in the second set with double faults. I’m not surprised I got broken, I deserved it. In the third set I got it back and in the end, I got the balance well.
“It’s a long preparation for here. You always want to keep going and fine-tune stuff, but when the day comes you have got to get out there and do your stuff. Throughout the match generally my concentration was very good. That’s something you’ve got to learn. It doesn’t come overnight. I respect Alex a lot. He’s the type of guy that will pounce on it if you do dip.”
Then reflecting on Saturday night’s football, the Liverpool fan who watched it at an English-themed pub with compatriots Cameron Norrie, Dominic Inglot and the Skupski brothers, commented: “It was enjoyable to be there with the guys, but not at the end. It’s never nice to lose a Champions League final, is it? But it looks like they are hungry to do more, which is good.”
In other men’s action on day three, Rafa Nadal completed his first-round match after rain suspended it overnight, beating Simone Bolelli 6-4 6-3 7-6(9), saving four set points in the tiebreaker while Juan Martin del Potro recovered from a poor opening set to record his 80th win at Grand Slams.
Seeded five, DelPo triumphed over the mercurial veteran Frenchman, Nicolas Mahut, 1-6 6-1 6-2 6-4 after two hours and seven minutes
A former semi-finalist he had to reassess his game as Mahut outplayed him in the opening set but once the big Argentine got his rhythm and range, he outplayed his wildcarded opponent.
The Argentinian fired nine aces, saved four break points, dropped serve twice but captured Mahut’s serve five times. He also struck 38 winners and 23 unforced errors while Mahut recorded 34 winners with 33 errors and was overwhelmed by DelPo’s power from the baseline.
Earlier the exciting Denis Shapovalov, seeded 24 and one of six teenagers competing at Roland Garros this year, all aged 19, opened his campaign when he eased past Australia’s John Millman 7-5 6-4 6-2 in what was his first match in the main-draw of the French.
The Canadian, who lost in qualifying last year, hasn’t set his sights on winning a grand slam just yet, but as he gains experience, he will no doubt be hammering on the door.
“I feel even if I don’t have the results right now, you know, this year, next year, I feel like I have such a long way, so much time to improve and to get to where they Nadal and Federer) are right now,” he said. “So for me, there is not much pressure. I’m 19. I’m playing freely every tournament. Everything is new for me.”
The left-hander struggled last year on the clay but within twelve months his results on the surface have improved immensely with a semi-final appearance in Madrid, proving his point.
“It’s been a love and hate relationship with me on clay,” he admitted. “Obviously I didn’t grow up on the surface. It’s been a bit of a struggle for me, especially early on.
“But I told my team from the beginning of the season I want to play a lot of clay-court tournaments. It’s not for this season, it’s not for next season. It was really a goal just to get better, long term.”
Shapovalov will next face the German world number 70 Maximilian Marterer for a place in the last 32.
Other notable wins were scored by third-seeded Marin Cilic, with a straight-set win over James Duckworth and the sixth seeded Kevin Anderson and John Isner seeded nine.
But one seed did go out after playing an ill-tempered marathon match.
Jack Sock, seeded 14th seed, lost to ‘lucky loser’ Jurgen Zopp 6-7(4) 6-2 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 to become the highest ranked men’s seed to be eliminated in the opening round.
During the match, Sock said to umpire Paula Vieria “I can do whatever I want. I’m a player. You would’t be here if I wasn’t here” after several controversial line calls.
In the interview room he was was asked about his comments which could well attract a fine. He replied: “When they [chair umpires] change the outcomes of matches, it’s pretty tough not to be frustrated. When both players agree on probably six to eight calls, looking at each other, telling each other the ball was in when she calls it out, or vice versa, it’s pretty easy to get frustrated.”