Novak Djokovic was standing tall a little over two years ago as the most dominant tennis player in the men’s game. But following a succession of physical and mental troubles, he has relinquished his status as tennis’ top man. In just two weeks time, the French Open will commence in Paris-–the center of arguably Djokovic’s most memorable moment–-and there has been no sign that the Djokovic juggernaut will strike any fear into his opponents.
For one man who relished the occasion in Madrid, British No. 1 Kyle Edmund–who had previously not taken a set off Djokovic in three meetings–somehow turned the tables and produced a performance of immense quality to inflict more misery on the Serb, winning in three sets 6-3 2-6 6-3 to set up a third round meeting with eighth-seeded Belgian David Goffin.
Djokovic, who won a blockbuster first round match against Kei Nishikori, struggled to impose himself in the opening set with the chastening sunlight blocking his view while serving, and Edmund made his move by breaking serve three times. The 23-year-old utilized his ferocious forehand to stretch Djokovic on either wing to take the first set in just over half an hour.
The former World No. 1 made a drastic improvement in the second set, committing just three unforced errors. Djokovic stuck to play to Edmund’s suspect backhand and made a lighting start to the set with a break of serve. He maintained the momentum to see off the set 6-2.
Things were looking rosy in the third set when Djokovic manufactured three break points on the Edmund serve in the fifth game, but the South African-born Brit showed nerves of steel, by drawing a couple of errors and an ace to save them. Edmund held serve and pressure was on Djokovic to continue to do the same. It was in the subsequent service game when Djokovic, who had not lost a point on serve in the third set, paid the price for a seemingly loose game. Edmund hit a looping forehand which just caught the line, and it was the platform for a service break.
The British No. 1 served out to love for the biggest win of his career, a win which will take him into the World’s Top 20. For Novak Djokovic, he had reiterated the positive influence of accumulating more matches under his belt, but with this defeat, he has failed to defend his semifinal points from last year. This puts him in a really precarious situation of potentially being outside the top 16 seeds at the French Open.
Embed from Getty Images