French Open | Edmund keeps British hopes alive
British No.1 Kyle Edmund reached the third round of the French Open for the second successive year and could well feature in the second week at Roland Garros for the first time in his career
He beat Marton Fucsovics the 2010 Wimbledon Junior champion — who won his first career title in Geneva last weekend and was on a six-match winning streak — in a topsy-turvy, second-round five-set contest lasting two hours and 16-minutes.
Despite his excellent run, Fucsovics, ranked 45, lost the first set in just 27 minutes without winning a game.
I made life difficult for myself in the second. Tennis is difficult in that way, when you’re cruising and it’s going your way, then suddenly he has a bit of confidence and runs away with it quickly. Kyle Edmund
Edmund then had his own slump in the second set losing the first five games. At one stage he called the trainer for a problem with the index finger on his right racket hand which he later revealed was a paper cut which needed a plaster.
But the 16th seed responded well, quickly moving 3-0 ahead in the third, and went on to claim a very satisfactory 6-0 1-6 6-2 6-3 victory.
The fourth set was the first to be really competitive but, after saving three break points at 2-2, Edmund made his own breakthrough in the eighth game to secure his third-round spot where he faces the mercurial Italian, Fabio Fognini, seeded 18 who will no doubt provide him with a much greater test as he seeks to make the last 16 for the first time.
Against Fucsovics, Edmund’s serve wasn’t the usually reliable weapon he can rely on landing just 44% of his first serves when his percentages in the past have been much higher.
“It was job done in the end,” said the 23-year-old.
“I made life difficult for myself in the second. Tennis is difficult in that way, when you’re cruising and it’s going your way, then suddenly he has a bit of confidence and runs away with it quickly.
“It’s something to learn from but I’m just happy to come through in the end.
“When I am playing at my best it’s definitely a high level.
“I run at a high intensity, but you can’t play at that all the time and that’s something I’ve learned as I’ve matured and got older – when you are not playing your best you have to find a way to win.”
At the conclusion of Thursday’s schedule, Edmund became the only Briton left in either singles draw as Cameron Norrie was finally knocked out and Heather Watson was swept aside in the women’s event.
Norrie was two sets down to Frenchman Lucas Pouille but recovered to take the third set when play was suspended overnight on Wednesday because of poor light, but despite a determined performance the British No.3 lost 6-2 6-4 5-7 7-6(3) when play resumed on Thursday.
There were memories of Norrie’s epic five set win over Roberta Bautista Agut in Davis Cup play when he came back from two sets down to clinch a memorable victory when the pair resumed their match. And he stayed with the 15th seeded Frenchman but failed to convert the crucial break point he created at 4-5 which would have given him the set
It was saved with an ace and Pouille followed it up with his own break to set up a chance to serve for the match, only for Norrie to strike back to take the set to a tie-break.
Norrie again held his own but at 5-3 down, a converted volley at the net was wiped out after the umpire adjudged that the British world number 85 had touched the net with his foot, leaving Pouille to take his first match point to register his win.
During the day it was announced that Peter Gojowczyk who retired with hip and groin problems during his first-round clash with Norrie, was fined 25,000 Euros as his retirement decision was castigated by officials who deemed him to have failed to perform at the ‘required professional standard’.
According to the tournament referee, Gojowczyk should have withdrawn from the first round and allowed a lucky loser to take his place as the new rules now state to protect the integrity of the competition.
The new rule declares: “Any player who competes in the first-round main draw singles and retires or performs below professional standards, may now be subject to a fine up to (the equivalent) first round prize money in 2018.”
In the women’s competition, British No.2 Heather Watson missed out on a place in the third round for the sixth time after losing to 16th seed Elise Martens.
A mixed start saw both struggle in the first set – with eight breaks of serve seeing Martens take the opener.
Watson rallied to level 4-4 in the second set before dropping serve again, eventually losing out 6-3 6-4 after one-hour and 27-minutes.