After a semifinal loss at the Australian Open in 2018, and his first and lone ATP Tour victory that same season, Kyle Edmund rose to No. 14 in the world. Then things didn’t go so well.
A left knee injury in early 2019 took its toll, both in form and confidence, and when he arrived at the New York Open this week he was No. 62 and looking for a spark that could shoot him back up the rankings ladder.
He found it.
Edmund defeated Andreas Seppi, 7-5, 6-1, in the championship match at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on Sunday with the 25-year-old Englishman finally putting together an efficient and explosive effort.
There certainly was enough pop in his game to handle 35-year-old Seppi of Italy, who had no solution for Edmund’s serving prowess and has lost five of six matches against him.
When Edmund broke Seppi in the 12th game to win the first set, he smashed a backhand winner down the line. It was a crucial moment.
“When you get that first stamp of authority, a leg up in the match, it forces the opponent to come up with answers,” Edmund said. “You don’t have to force the issue as much. Breaking him, I knew I would serve first in the second set and be in the lead.”
Edmund dropped just eight service points in the match. He was 31-for-33 in winning first-serve points and 9-for-15 on second-serve points, with 11 aces overall. He didn’t make a double fault and never faced a break point.
“[The serve] has gotten better as the week went on,” Edmund said. “Today it was the best. When you get that big first serve in and when I can get [the return] on my forehand, that’s where I want to be. I got a lot of points like that this week.”
He got a bunch of points like that against Seppi.
“I think it was like the key to the match — to put some pressure on his serve,” Seppi said. “I just felt like I could never really put him under pressure.”
That difficulty was compounded by Seppi's left hamstring injury in the second set that caused him to take a medical timeout and get it wrapped.
“I felt I couldn’t move normally after that,” said Seppi, who didn’t use it as an excuse.
At one point last season, Edmund had lost in the first round of seven straight tournaments and 14 tournaments overall. Only at the end of the season did he see some results, winning two matches in Paris and three matches for Great Britain in the revamped Davis Cup.
He lost only one set at the New York Open, to Soonwoo Kwon in the third round after Kwon likely had done him a favor by knocking out second-seeded Milos Raonic in the second round.
“The reasons you get to right now with the trophy here and what makes it nice is that you experience all those downs and it makes you realize you just can’t take success for granted,” Edmund said. “You get the success from having the downs because you learn from that.
“I never once thought about winning the tournament, I thought about winning the match. It wasn’t until I got to match point today that I thought about winning the tournament."
Notes & quotes:
Dominic Inglot and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi took the doubles title, beating Reilly Opelka and Steve Johnson, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6). Johnson lost a point in the first set when he lobbed into the retired number of Islanders great Clark Gillies, which was hanging from the Coliseum rafters . . . Sunday's attendance was 3,325 and 28,942 for the week, all-time highs for the tournament in its third year.