Djokovic survives early scare to beat Edmund in US Open second round

Novak Djokovic survives early scare to seal US Open third round spot after coming from a set behind to beat Britain’s Kyle Edmund

  • Kyle Edmund won the first set against world No 1 Novak Djokovic in New York
  • After taking opener 7-6 (7-5), the Brit’s level dropped and he was outclassed
  • Djokovic took the second set 6-3 before racing to 6-4 in the third shortly after
  • Serb then closed the match out 6-2 in the fourth and marches on to third round 

Kyle Edmund is a quiet man with a loud forehand, but he could not make it roar for long enough on Wednesday night to seriously disrupt Novak Djokovic at the US Open.

The British No 2 performed creditably enough, but failed to sustain his early charge against a man who has almost forgotten how to lose.

The world No 1 was given a proper scare early on but recovered enough of his form to win 6-7 6-3 6-4 6-2 in three hours and 13 minutes to maintain what is looking like ominous form.

Novak Djokovic bounced back from a set behind to beat Kyle Edmund in four at the US Open

Djokovic and Edmund embrace at the net following the second-round contest on Wednesday

The world No 1 celebrates following his hard-fought victory at Flushing Meadows

He paid Edmund the compliment of producing his best, at least for a time, after he went behind. The match followed a similar pattern to their meeting at Wimbledon two years ago, where the 25 year-old Yorkshireman got off to an excellent start before being made to pay heavily for a drop of intensity in the second set.

This inability to fully assert himself when having the advantage explains why Edmund has only won two of his matches out of his 26 against top ten players, even those less accomplished than the brilliant Djokovic.

Given the weapons at his disposal, and the kind of quality he showed he possesses early on, that figure really ought to be higher.

Edmund was the first of four British male players in second round action, the biggest UK representation since 1974. 

He faced an opponent whose lockdown period was fairly interesting, to put it mildly. We have been treated to his views on vaccination and general health matters, and he was responsible for the well-documented disaster that was the Adria Tour exhibition series.

In the past ten days he has managed to get his long-cherished vision of an independent players’ union-type organisation off the ground, although whether it flies remains to be seen.

Edmund failed to sustain his early charge against a man who has almost forgotten how to lose

It didn’t go to plan for Djokovic early on but he sooner rather than later stamped his authority 

For most players it would have caused the kind of distraction to throw them off their game, but not the multi-tasking Serb, whose talents extend to compartmentalising whatever is going on in his complicated mind and life.

None of the off-court events appeared to have affected his tennis coming into this match, extending his unblemished record of the season to 24-0 last week by winning the relocated Cincinatti title. If he had a concern it would be that he played too much, coming into this tournament.

Watching on during the first set was Andy Murray, who is among the players who have been allocated their own personal hospitality box in the middle tier of the vast, empty Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The same level of heroics that Murray produced 24 hours earlier – and more – would be required if Edmund was to spring a seismic upset.

He was soon fending off three break points, but received early encouragement from the way that Djokovic repeatedly made his own life difficult by attempting backhand dropshots that either flopped into the net or stood up to be put away.

Yet the world No 1 knew he had to be fully engaged against an opponent who beat him three meetings ago, at the clay court Madrid Open in 2018.

Edmund’s hopes of getting back into the contest faded when Djokovic broke early in fourth set

Nobody is better equipped to soak up the power of Edmund’s sidewinder forehand than the elastic-limbed Serb, but even he struggled to contain the quality of blows coming at him from the opposite end of the court.

Edmund was good value for taking the match into a tiebreak and it was a victory of sorts when he took it 7-5, the first time in this truncated season that Djokovic has lost a tiebreak.

Given that record it would have been easy for the Yorkshireman to flinch when he served for it, but he stepped up and slammed an ace down the middle of the court.

That was the cue for Djokovic to properly dial in and show once again that he will brutally punish any let-up in intensity from the other end. Edmund threw in a poor game to be broken for 1-3 in the second, and it took only five minutes for the momentum of the match to be completely turned.

Something that has turned the Serb into the player who may well overtake Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the race for most Grand Slam titles has been the evolution of his serve.

Edmund got off to the perfect start to take the first set on a tie-break against the world No 1

The accuracy of his delivery in the second set as he focused on his task meant that there was no way back into it for the British No 2.

Djokovic stretched his lead in a lower quality third set in which both players minds seemed to wander at time. The world No 1 appeared to get complacent once he had forged an early lead but Edmund could not take advantage.

These types of lapses are, perhaps, to be expected, given the funereal atmosphere around Flushing Meadows, which is never more stark than in its giant main stadium, where every howl of frustration echoes around the empty stands.

‘So much energy in here!’ he shouted sarcastically as he raced towards victory in the fourth set.

Djokovic wrapped up his four-set win in three hours and 13 minutes to maintain his great form




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