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Kyle Edmund: Following In Murray's Footsteps

Edmund© AFP/Getty ImagesKyle Edmund is making the most of playing on home soil.

Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund has big shoes to fill if he is to follow in the footsteps of Grand Slam champion, Olympic gold medallist and World No. 2 Andy Murray. But the softly spoken, thoughtful and grounded 18 year old is looking to the Scot for inspiration as he attempts to build on a successful junior career and make his way on the ATP World Tour.

The right-hander, who was born in Johannesburg but raised in Yorkshire, has already jumped over 100 places in the Emirates ATP Rankings this season and has the Top 400 in his sights as he prepares to make his Wimbledon debut as a wild card entrant. 

Days after winning the boys’ doubles title at Roland Garros, Edmund made his ATP World Tour debut at the Aegon Championships at The Queen’s Club, losing a close match to Grega Zemlja. One week later he took advantage of a wild card into the Aegon International at Eastbourne by bridging a gap of 360 places in the Emirates ATP Rankings to beat Kenny De Schepper in the first round before losing to World No. 17 Gilles Simon in two tie-breaks. 

Edmund talked to in Eastbourne about his continued development, the ‘Murray Effect’ and his ambitions for the future in this Emirates Stars Of Tomorrow feature.

Emirates ATP Rankings

You’re trying to bridge the gap between juniors and seniors at the moment, what are you finding to be the most challenging aspect?
Initially, physically it was tough for me. I was coming from playing guys the same age as me, 17-18, to guys that are a lot stronger. But at the same time, in terms of ball striking, it’s not too different. I think they just do small things one-two per cent better. Maybe their serve percentage is a little bit more, they hit the spots and they defend a bit better. I think if I can sharpen up a few things in each area and get a little bit better, it doesn’t need to be a lot better, I think that will help my game improve. 

You played your first ATP World Tour match at Queen’s and won your first one at Eastbourne. How does it feel when you step onto court at these events? Do you feel intimidated, or do you feel like you belong?
I don’t think the players are too intimidating, maybe the stage is. I don’t really play on courts as big as that. When I’m playing futures and junior events, it’s normally outside courts. I thought I dealt well with it and the crowd was nice – obviously being British they support you. I was a little bit nervous, which I think is normal, but I quickly just focussed on my game and tried to put my game out on court and that helped.

You’ve moved up more than 100 places in the Emirates ATP Rankings this year and won a Futures tournament. What improvements have you made to your game this year?
I did a big fitness block at the end of last year, pre-season, and I went to America at the start of the year, where I played 16 matches in four weeks. It was quite a lot and I think that really helped me. In the way I’m hitting the ball, there hasn’t been a big change, just little bits that have helped me. Certainly the last week at Queen’s and this week, playing with these guys, have given me confidence that I can hit with them and play against them. Whatever the results are, it’s going to be three-four good weeks for experience and learning. That’s the most important thing.

What do you feel your strengths are as a tennis player?
If you look at shots, I like to hit my forehand. I’ll run around my backhand to hit the forehand. I just find it easier to hit and I’m able to get some good spin on the ball to get kick off the court. I try to use my serve as much as possible to get cheap points on the grass. I try not to get frustrated, because it doesn’t help me. If I stay calm, it helps my game. I’m always in the present, which is where you want to be, not in the past.

Andy Murray has been Great Britain’s best player for many years. Do you look at him as inspiration, or do you feel pressure that there will be expectation to match his achievements?
I see him as an inspiration. Obviously, him winning a Grand Slam at the end of the year took a lot of pressure off everyone. There’s one less thing for us to do almost. He’s had a lot of pressure put on him because he’s been the only guy there. To look at him and see what he’s doing can only be an inspiration.

I’ve hit with him a couple of times. He hasn’t really given me advice. But his fitness trainers are also my fitness trainers – Matt Little and Johan De Beer. They’re always liaising and they know how tough it is at the top of the game. We’re always prioritising fitness, sometimes even over tennis because that’s where the game’s going at the minute. When Andy was my age, he wasn’t as big. When he was at Wimbledon in 2005 he was cramping, so he really bought into it. I think, by him buying into it, it’s made a massive difference for his confidence on court. I want to keep going with my fitness as well, but also keep learning on the tennis side of it.

What would you like to achieve in tennis?
You’ve always got ambitions like winning a Grand Slam and winning the Davis Cup for Britain. Those are my childhood dreams. But at the minute, you just have to go one step at a time. This summer is a great learning curve for me. I don’t set myself goals. If you’re good enough to be at a particular ranking, say No. 100, you’ll get there because you’re good enough. The results will come if your game is good enough. The aim is to continue to develop my game and always think long term. As long as my game keeps improving I’ll be happy.

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