Kyle Edmund

Kyle Edmund makes winning return to grass at Lexus Surbiton Trophy

Five long years Kyle Edmund has waited to play a singles match on a grass court. Little wonder there was a mix of relief and elation at making a winning return.

Playing in the first round of qualifying at the Lexus Surbiton Trophy, Edmund got the better of Australia’s Li Tu 6-1 7-6 (7-4) to set up an all-British encounter with Ryan Peniston in the next round.

Whatever happens in that encounter, this victory meant a lot after a half decade in which Covid-19 pandemic and three separate knee operations have put the buffers on a career that had seen Edmund ranked as high as 14 in the world and reaching a Grand Slam semi-final.

These days, this tournament in Surbiton is a step up, rather than down, for Edmund, who is just inside the world’s top 500 as he looks to get back to challenging the world’s best.

He said: “It’s my first singles grass court match since 2019 which is pretty crazy. It was good to win, I haven’t had loads of wins recently, I’ve been playing very on and off. It was nice to get through the draw. This is up there with the stronger tournaments I’ve played.

“It was good to play the calibre of player I did and get confidence from it.

“It’s been really long since my injury and since I played (at the highest level). I view this as a step up rather than a step down of what I used to be. I’ve had a really up and down time.

“I don’t think ‘I used to be there’, it’s very much a mindset that I have to earn my right to get there. I have to put in the hard yards and play the hard matches at the lower level. That is the reality.”

Edmund, from Tickton, has endured a dreadful time with injuries, with his knee issues keeping him on the sidelines for almost two years, before a wrist issue ruined last summer.

It has been a frustrating time for Edmund, who reached the last four of the Australian Open back in 2018.

After all that time on the sidelines, simply being back playing good tennis and enjoying himself is a victory.

But now, Edmund is looking to rack up a few more wins to shoot back up the rankings.

He added: “All the tournaments, I won’t get in on my ranking, so I’m relying on wildcards. There are some opportunities and it’s always good to get momentum. As a player, when you have confidence and momentum, it helps.

“I’m not just looking to get the points to take it to get into tournaments. I’m looking bigger picture, I need to improve my game. In the long-term, I want to keep playing as much as I can. Ultimately, the years and months I missed were to give myself another opportunity with all the rehab and injury. It was just to give myself another opportunity to see where I could go. Once that is finished, I can see how far I got. In the present, I’m just trying to keep on going. It’s a hard journey to get up there.

“When you are on the tour events, that is where you want to be. But when you are not, it is getting there, but you have to do the work, rather than talking about it. I’ve got the experience which I bank on, I know what it’s like to be up there. It’s about producing it week in, week out.

“The body is feeling the best it has since the operations. It’s not been a quick fix, it’s been a long time. I am feeling good but it’s one thing feeling good, you also need to play as well.

“There is no doubt that when you have an injury and three operations on the knee, then it becomes chronic, it does have an impact. All that scar tissue builds up over the years and plays a part. But the more you play, you get more trust in yourself, more confidence from it. This is what it used to feel like, what it feels like to explode on the court and play freely.

“I can still play and today, I’m still playing at a certain level, so I want to get better.”

Kyle Edmund is on the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme presented by Lexus, the highest level of support for developing players aged 16-24, designed to help them crack the Top 100.

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