In an all-British battle, former world and British #1 Andy Murray takes on the nation’s current top-ranked player Kyle Edmund for a place in the third round in Washington. Murray is playing his first hard court tournament since Indian Wells last year and just his third tournament of the year after a serious hip injury. Edmund, meanwhile, has been having the best season of his career, which included reaching the Australian Open semifinals in January. Who will come out on top?
Murray and Edmund have met three times so far in their careers, including once earlier this season. Their first two meetings both came in 2016 and went the way of Murray, with the Scot a 6-4 3-6 6-1 victor at Queen’s Club on the grass, before backing that up in Beijing, where he defeated Edmund 7-6 6-2. When they met this year, in Eastbourne, much had changed and Murray was searching for both form and fitness in just his third match of the year. He didn’t find it, losing 4-6 4-6.
Path to the second round
Edmund, the fourth seed in Washington, received a first round bye and this will be the first time he has stepped on court since Wimbledon. His campaign at the All England Club was one of mixed results. He reached the third round, playing impressively to defeat the qualifiers Alex Bolt and Bradley Klahn without dropping a set. But on Centre Court he was ultimately outclassed by eventual champion Novak Djokovic despite a good start, losing 6-4 3-6 2-6 4-6.
Murray skipped Wimbledon, citing a lack of readiness for best-of-five tennis, but Washington is surely an integral part of his preparations for the US Open. They got off to a good, if difficult start against Mackenzie McDonald of the USA, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. It was the American who won the first set, recovering from a break down to win it 6-3. But that brought out the fighter in Murray, who eventually prevailed 3-6 6-4 7-5, despite squandering his first six match points.
How do they match up?
At the centre of Murray’s success over the years has been ruthless efficiency and consistency from the baseline, backed up by a willingness to move forward when the moment is right. His backhand is the crown jewel in his impressive armoury, and it was working well against McDonald. He did, however, struggle to generate power and depth with his forehand, which will be a concern for him going forward.
Whilst there is more to Edmund’s game than his forehand, it is unquestionably his biggest weapon. It can become wayward with the Yorkshireman yet to truly learn how to control his aggression, it is still amongst the best on Tour. His backhand is more functional than dangerous, but Edmund has continued to work on and improve it. The key to this match may be the serve, particularly their second deliveries. It is a weakness in both men’s games and exploiting it should provide a path to victory.
Murray battled impressively to get past McDonald, but there were a number of glaring weaknesses in his game that the American should perhaps have done more to punish. His serving was poor throughout, and whilst it did improve as the match wore on, it was still some level below what one expects from Murray or any other top player. And it certainly wasn’t good enough to suggest he can beat Edmund. Expect the fourth seed to have too much for Murray and advance in straight sets.
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