Ed­mund un­able to join Fan­tas­tic Four as ‘ma­ture’ Mon­fils pre­vails

● Hopes of a fifth Bri­tish player in the third round are dashed by French­man

The Scotsman - - Sport - By AI­DAN SMITH at Wim­ble­don

The Fan­tas­tic Four had swoope­d­downon­thep­et­ri­fied deben­ture-hold­ers of Wim­ble­don and saved them from a plague of fly­ing ants. These less than tim­o­rous beast­ies had laughed at at­tempts to shoo them with Sav­ile Row boaters and high-qual­ity nap­kins but were crushed by the fly­ing rack­ets of Andy Mur­ray, Jo­hanna Konta, Heather Wat­son and Al­jaz Be­dene. So, could Kyle Ed­mund turn the Fan­tas­tic Four into the Fa­mous Five?

The ants re­moved, the afore­men­tioned quar­tet looked around the green and pleas­ant con­fines of SW19 and de­cided they would all take up res­i­dence in the third round. Mur­ray usu­ally does this but fel­low Brits have been no­tice­able by their ab­sence from the later stages. No pres­sure, then, Kyle.

We should stress that no in­sects were de­lib­er­ately taken out as the home front achieved a 20-year high at the tour­na­ment, spark­ing head­lines like “Four-midable!”, although Konta con­fessed to swal­low­ing at least one bug. Ed­mund, though, was go­ing to have to gulp hard and down a top 20 seed for only the se­cond time in a Slam.

French­man Gael Mon­fils was seeded No 15, the 20-yearold York­shire­man back at No 50. He strode onto Cen­tre Court, eyes down, no wav­ing. In the warm-up he al­most ba­roomed a ball clean out of the arena. Nerves? The pre-andy era of Bri­tish ten­nis wasn’t so long ago. It was best summed up by the Aussie wit Clive James who, in his TV re­views, would log how quickly our great hopes in whites would exit the com­pe­ti­tion and pop up in the com­men­tary box.

In the third game Ed­mund caught an­other off the edge. “That one’s got snow on it,” Bill Mclaren would have said. But he was steady on his own serve, not al­low­ing the French­man too many chances with his mean dou­ble-firsted back­hand. Would that be his best chance? Mur­ray, in crav­ing fur­ther Brit ad­vances, had told his com­pa­tri­ots not to be sat­is­fied with reach­ing the open­ing rounds. Ed­mund had just de­scribed his first-ever Wim­bers vic­tory as a “dream come true”. And ul­ti­mately he had to be happy with that, los­ing this one 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-4.

The first set went with serve. At 4-4 Ed­mund achieved three break points, one com­ing via what was fast be­com­ing his trade­mark: a shot off the frame only this time keep­ing within the con­fines of the court. But they all slipped away. The set went to a tie-break and Mon­fils – typ­i­cal French, the court is a can­vas and he likes to paint his shots – romped it. 0 Kyle Ed­mund: He loved the ex­pe­ri­ence of Cen­tre Court.

There had been no breaks in the first set but Mon­fils, speedy for such a big man, grabbed one at the start of the se­cond. It was dif­fi­cult to de­tect Ed­mund’s mood un­der the brim of his hat, the head­gear def­i­nitely re­quired in the ex­treme heat. Ed­mond had a glim­mer of an­other break in the eighth game but Mon­fils – whose serve dur­ing the af­ter­noon reached 136mph – held him at bay. A cou­ple of times the Brit, who has a clob­ber­ing fore­hand, saw the vast, rolling plains of the court and got too ex­cited.

Two sets down, match over? Maybe not quite. Ed­mund im­me­di­ately gained an ad­van­tage in the third set to lead 3-0 as Mon­fils, al­ways keen to en­ter­tain, went for the spec­tac­u­lar with a Mead­owlark Le­monesque leap which didn’t pro­duce any hoop dreams. Three un­forced er­rors, though, de­nied Ed­mund a se­cond break and Mon­fils just had too many ar­rows in his quiver, saun­ter­ing to five games in a row to see out the match and deny Bri­tain a fifth par­tic­i­pant in the third round.

Af­ter­wards Ed­mund said he loved the ex­pe­ri­ence of Cen­tre Court, made some mis­takes, promised to learn from them. “Each set I sort of felt I had a bit of a chance,” he added. “I got my game out on court, which is some­thing I wanted to do, and just [showed] a bit of lack of ma­tu­rity [for] this stage. A few shots in cer­tain points or match sit­u­a­tions just needed to be bet­ter.

“I’m only 20, I don’t know all the an­swers but this was a great match to learn from.”

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