After more than 18 months without hitting a ball in anger, Kyle Edmund is confident that he still has what it takes to get back to the top.
In 2018, Edmund announced himself on the world stage by reaching the semi-final of the Australian Open and getting into the world’s top 20.
Later that year, however, a troublesome knee started bothering him, and after two years of grinning and baring it, he finally had surgery to try to resolve the problem.
Three operations later, Edmund made his long-awaited return to action in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon, losing in the first round alongside Olivia Nicholls, with the next ambition being a return to singles in the coming weeks.
And while the 27-year-old is reluctant to set himself specific targets with regards to rankings, he is confident that he can get back to his former level.
He said: “In terms of actual performance and talking rankings and wins and losses, that is ultimately the goal (to get back to where he was).
“What you have tasted before, you get the bug for it. You have the slams, getting to the latter end of slams, that I’ve done properly once, winning the tournaments, all those sorts of things, I want to do again, knowing it will take work and there will be some days where it is a bit crap because I’m not going to win all the time, no matter how much you want to.
“I still have years ahead of me and that’s the ultimate goal. I want to be able to put myself in a position to do that and that is where the work comes in. It’s not going to come from day one but I believe it can come. I’ve hit with players on the practice court, I know it’s different but it is there, I need to go and do it.”
Edmund benefits from a protected ranking, a mechanism that allows players who suffer long-term injury to maintain their spot in the world rankings and qualify for tournaments that they would not otherwise be able to compete in.
And after coming through his return to action without feeling any pain in his knee, the hope is that a return to singles will be similarly pain-free.
He added: “I guess I am (ready to play singles now). It’s always hard to know after having 18 months off, if I could definitely go and do that because I have not experienced it but I certainly think I can.
“In terms of what my level would be, that is something we’ll see and I’ll improve on as I go on in the States and I’d want to build up. The idea that I can come out and leave where I left off is hard. I’ve worked hard and want to get there, all those kind of things. I feel I am ready.
“It was great to go on court, I didn’t feel anything which is something that I have not had for a long time. That’s why it took so long. So that’s good for me, especially with how old I am in my career. I want to have some years where I can play on the tour.
“Granted it wasn’t four hours running from side to side, but if you go on court and have no pain, in January this year I would have said ‘please give me that’. I would genuinely have struggled to see that in January. It was only in February that it started improving.
“There’s a reason I had to have three ops, it wasn’t because I wanted to do, it’s because I had to have it. It was great to be on the court pain-free and thinking about tennis, thinking about being there rather than ‘how am I going to hold up? How is my knee doing?’.”
At long last, Edmund is a tennis player once again – now the target is to get back to the top.
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