After Kyle Edmund suffered another loss as a result of cramp, it is time to ask questions why the 21 year olds’ body has failed him once more.
Edmund Feeling the Heat
There is little doubt that Britain’s exciting young player can become a star of the future. With a serious degree of confidence for a player with relatively minimal experience, along with the game to go with it, there appears to be one hurdle that will prevent Edmund from fulfilling what he is capable of: his own body.
In what was his sixth Grand Slam match since debuting at Wimbledon in 2013, Edmund cruised through the first set 6-1, before narrowly losing the second on a tie-break, and then regaining the advantage in the third.
However, winning that third set came at some cost to the British Number Three. In leading 4-3, Edmund first called for treatment at the change of ends, and although he was able to serve out the set, signs of distress were etched across his face as the two players took their seats ahead of what might have been the final set.
From that moment, the result had largely been decided, and the match was to be reversed. The Brit’s opponent David Dzumhur was able to simply extend the rallies until Edmund just could not compete physically, leaving the Bosnian to comfortably take the fourth and fifth set and secure his place in the next round.
Unfortunately, this was nothing new for Edmund. British fans will recall an exceptional Davis Cup Final contest between Edmund and Belgium’s World Number 16, David Goffin. A rare five-set match (discussed further later on) for Edmund on his debut in the competition, he was soon pulled back and then surpassed by Goffin after storming into a 2-0 (6-3, 6-1) lead.
Back then, the heat of the occasion and the temperatures inside the Flanders Expo arena proved too much for Kyle, as did the length of the contest no doubt.
Why does Kyle keep on cramping?
After training for hours on end against perhaps the best conditioned player on the tour in Andy Murray, why was a five-set match too much to overcome once again?
We hear several clichés in sport about ‘match fitness’, and there is a good reason why. Just as we see players returning from injury rarely succeed in their first match back, it would appear that Edmund is suffering from a similar experience moving off of the practice court, and onto the show court.
Just as several of us avid British tennis fans will recall Edmund’s physical difficulties back in Belgium, I am sure that many of you will soon be able to reminisce over the images of a certain Andy Murray suffering similar fate at the beginning of his own career.
Perhaps most infamous is the scene from Queens Club in 2005 where a somewhat lighter Murray fell to the ground in a lengthy tie against Swede Thomas Johansson. Muscle fatigue is no rarity among young elite sportsmen and women and just like Kyle, Murray would not suffer from such a simple, yet largely frustrating cramp only once.
Less than a year later and this time on the clay in Monte Carlo, Murray had served for the set in the second set, and also been in pole position in the third, before then suffering a recurrence of those cramps he had experienced back in London. No matter how hard he trains, Edmund may well continue to be faced by fatigue each time he has the opportunity to play a competitive five-set match. However, with a powerful game that certainly does not lack the quality that is required to compete at the highest level, the second seed Brit will have multiple opportunities to play these extended matches.
One might suggest that such matches will not only be available to Edmund in the form of Grand Slam contests, but will also be offered to him by his Davis Cup Captain Leon Smith.
After Smith showed his confidence in Edmund by providing the 21 year old with his debut in Britain’s first Davis Cup final since 1978, expect the British Captain to once again turn to his younger squad member in March, as the British side welcome Japan as they begin their title defence.