In a clash of two men that first came to prominence this year in Australia, Melbourne Park semifinalist Kyle Edmund takes on Australian teenager Alex De Minaur. De Minaur, who is also playing doubles in Estoril with Hewitt, had a thrilling start to the season. He made the semifinals in Brisbane and the final in Sydney and is on the cusp of breaking into the top 100 despite his youth. But he faces a real test against third seeded Edmund. Who will come out on top?
Edmund and De Minaur have never met before, perhaps unsurprisingly considering the youth of De Minaur who only turned professional in 2015. The Australian has just eleven career match wins to his name, nine of which have come this year. Edmund has amassed 64 so far in his career, including eleven this year. Neither man has ever won an ATP title, with Edmund losing to Andujar in his first final in Marrakesh last month. De Minaur lost his only final so far in three sets to Medvedev in Sydney.
Path to the second round
Edmund, the third seed, received a first round bye in Portugal and so has not yet taken to the court. The Briton has, however, lost his last two matches after the defeat to Andujar was followed by a loss to Seppi in the first round of the Monte Carlo Masters. De Minaur, unseeded, began his Estoril Open with a convincing win against home hope Gastao Elias. The Australian dominated throughout his 6-3 6-1 win and will surely go into his match with Edmund in good heart.
How do they match up?
Central to Edmund’s game is his powerful forehand. The Yorkshireman has one of the biggest forehands in the game, and he is also comfortable hitting it with heavy topspin, a valuable skill to have in clay court tennis. However, dangerous weapon though his forehand is, it can also be Edmund’s undoing at times. The reason for this is that Edmund occasionally has a tendency to press too hard with his forehand, leading to a costly number of unforced errors.
He has improved his backhand over the past few seasons on Tour. When Edmund first appeared at Tour-level, his backhand was almost a nothing shot. He lacked the confidence and technique to hit aggressively with it, leaving his game overly reliant on his forehand. Though it is still far from one of the best in the game, Edmund’s backhand is now a factor in his game, allowing him a more varied offense.
De Minaur has already demonstrated an impressive and well-rounded game. The teenager is a very aggressive returner, something that Edmund, a fairly conservative server, will have to be aware of in this match. His groundstrokes are solid, with his forehand probably the more potent of the two shots. Unusually for an Australian, De Minaur grew up playing on clay having spent much of his childhood in Alicante in Spain.
De Minaur played a superb match against Gastao Elias and he has the quality to really test Edmund. But the Briton should have found his clay court game at this stage in the season, and despite a disappointing loss to Seppi, has generally impressed on the red dirt this year. He is also four years older than De Minaur, and that gives him what will prove an insurmountable advantage in strength and stamina. Edmund in three sets.