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I can go on and do a bit of damage now, roars Edmund


Marching on: Kyle Edmund celebrates his victory in the first round of the French Open
Marching on: Kyle Edmund celebrates his victory in the first round of the French Open
Off colour: Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie was at a loss to explain his shock defeat to the World No.27

By Eleanor Crooks

Kyle Edmund seized his opportunity to finish off a first-round marathon at the French Open with a sprint.

Edmund and his French opponent Jeremy Chardy had been forced off court by the fading light on Monday night at 5-5 in the deciding set after three hours and 55 minutes of power tennis in a tremendous atmosphere on Roland Garros' bullring court.

With the French Open now the only Grand Slam tournament not to use a deciding-set tie-break, there was the prospect of a lengthy denouement, but instead Edmund broke the Chardy serve at the first time of asking, needing just seven minutes and 10 points to clinch a 7-6 (1) 5-7 6-4 4-6 7-5 victory.

The result was a timely boost for the British No.1, who snapped a five-match losing streak dating back to early April.

Edmund said: "That was my aim today, just to come out really firing and almost impose myself on him. It was a good situation for me the more I thought about it.

"To come through that was great for me. I'm very happy with it. Great fight, good character, good composure, especially in an environment like that. And physically it was lots of positives for me. That was great to take forward."

He faces tricky Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas next as he bids to reach the third round here for a third successive year.

Cuevas is a hugely experienced clay-courter who has been in excellent form, but Edmund, who could play fourth seed Dominic Thiem in round three, is bullish about his own prospects.

"Of course it's a tough match," he said. "But I've just played a very tough match. I'm in a good place. I've shown I can play tough.

"I've just got to go out there and not really overthink it and just play. My game is certainly good enough now to do damage."

There was significantly less good news, though, for British No.2 Cameron Norrie, who fell to a humiliating defeat by French qualifier Elliot Benchetrit.

Norrie, who has climbed into the world's top 50 this year, looked to have a kind draw against the World No.273 but, while Benchetrit was inspired in front of his home crowd, the 23-year-old was off colour from the start.

A break for Benchetrit in the third game set the tone, and Norrie lost the second set to love in less than 20 minutes before eventually going out 6-3 6-0 6-2 in an hour and 24 minutes.

He was baffled by his own display, saying: "I never found my level at all. I didn't execute anything."

Norrie had originally been scheduled to face Nick Kyrgios before the volatile Australian withdrew through illness, but said: "I probably would have preferred to play this guy. Nick is a ridiculous player. He could have easily chopped me as well. I don't think I would have beaten anyone today."

Norrie has not had too many bumps in the road since emerging from the US college system and turning professional two years ago.

Following in his footsteps is 19-year-old Paul Jubb from Hull, who bettered Norrie by becoming the first British player to win the prestigious National Collegiate Athletic Association title last weekend.

If Jubb was American, the achievement would have been enough to earn him a US Open wildcard, and Norrie believes the teenager at least deserves a wildcard into Wimbledon qualifying, if not the main draw.

"He's a great prospect," said Norrie. "Hopefully he can follow in my footsteps. I never won that tournament, so that's a huge achievement. I'm happy for him."

Dan Evans was unable to join Edmund in the second round despite making a very good fist of a tough draw against 23rd seed Fernando Verdasco.

Clay is by far Evans' weakest surface and he had lost in the first round on both of his previous visits to Roland Garros, while Spaniard Verdasco has made the fourth round on seven occasions.

Evans matched him for most of the three-hour-and-25-minute encounter before feeling the pace in the fourth set, where he received treatment to his right calf, and eventually went down 6-3 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-2.

"I'm happy with how I played," said Evans. "I feel like I'm pretty close to the good guys again. There's nothing really negative about today.

"I genuinely wanted to play a really good player or someone I have a decent chance to go and win some matches in the tournament. And I played a decent player and tested myself."

Belfast Telegraph


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