Kyle Edmund secured his place as the last Briton standing at the US Open when he brushed past a misfiring Steve Johnson to reach the third round.
Edmund’s 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 victory was neat and clinical, even if his opponent offered up a few freebies, including eight double-faults and 47 unforced errors overall.
Above all, it showed patience – a quality that Edmund has not always deployed in the past. He has one of the fastest forehands in the world, and can theoretically end points with one shot at almost any time.
But when you go for the spectacular in this sport, you tend to tilt the odds against you. It is often better to work the rallies and wait for an opening, which is what Edmund has been doing of late.
“I did what I needed to do, with my tactics and controlling the match,” said Edmund afterwards. “I always felt in control. The third set was big, because those key points change matches. I was very happy to close it out in three.
Steve Johnson hits a return to Kyle Edmund on the third day of the US Open Credit: EPA
“He’s a unique player. Every shot is to set him up for the forehand, and he gives you no pace on the backhand. I’ve gained more maturity and experience [since losing to Johnson two years ago at the Australian Open]. It was a level up then and he crushed me physically. It was a big learning curve for me.”
Edmund chose an unusually busy schedule last week, starting with qualifying at the ATP 250 event in Winston-Salem and eventually reaching the semi-final of the main draw, with a quarter-final win over Johnson along the way.
His hectic itinerary means that he has now played nine matches in 12 days. But he is into the last 32 of this tournament, and needs only one more win to equal his run to the fourth round of last year’s US Open.
Earlier, British No. 3 Aljaz Bedene had gone down in straight sets to the heavy-hitting Russian 19-year-old Andrey Rublev. The deciding factor here was Bedene’s cranky knee, which began to restrict him in the third game of the match.
Bedene now fears that he may have to take an extended break from tennis to rest an inflamed tendon. “I’ve had problems there since Wimbledon,” he said, after his 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 defeat. “I thought it was going to be okay today but it’s not, so tough times.”
Aljaz Bedene lost to Andrey Rublev of Russia Credit: Getty
And the new kid on the British tennis block, 22-year-old Cameron Norrie, was unable to make much impression on 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta as he went down to a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 defeat.
Still, Norrie had already scored four victories at Flushing Meadows, starting in the qualifying event. “I think I belong here and I can play at this level,” he said, as he looked back at a successful week. ”I guess I can take confidence from that and I can compete with these top guys.”
If Norrie still has limited experience of the professional circuit, that’s because he has spent the last three years playing college tennis for Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, where he finished the most recent academic year as the top-ranked male in the country.
Now he plans to stack up some Challenger tournaments in the coming months in an effort to boost his ranking – which will stand somewhere in the low 180s after this tournament.
We can be confident that the results will come, because Norrie deploys his left-handed game with plenty of range and variety. He also exhibits a highly competitive temperament that can turn bolshie at times, as when he grew irritated yesterday by the number of tight line calls that were going against him, and started lambasting the chair umpire.
Asked yesterday when he thought he would be ready to compete with these sorts of players in the world’s top 20 or 30, Norrie was bullish. “I think I’m ready now,” he replied. “I just need more of these matches.
“There are such little margins,” Norrie added. “The top guys are willing to fight every point, their concentration and focus is so good and today I lost a lot of focus, I found it tough to concentrate on what I was doing well. I think just the focus of the top guys is so solid.”