BEVERLEY’S Kyle Edmund is getting used to life without Andy Murray and finds himself the centre of home attention once again following the Scot’s withdrawal from Wimbledon.
Murray decided on Sunday that best-of-five-set tennis was not the right move at this stage of his comeback from hip surgery, meaning he will miss the championships for the first time since 2007.
The two-time champion will be watching on TV and will no doubt be hoping to see Yorkshire’s Edmund produce the type of tennis that carried him to the Australian Open semi-finals in January.
During that run the 23-year-old quickly became irked by questions referring to the absence of Murray and Edmund has made it clear he likes to be his own man.
When he left IMG last year Edmund could have signed with Murray’s 77 agency, but instead chose StarWing Sports Management.
This is the fourth successive slam that Murray has missed and Edmund has been the most successful British player in all of the previous three, with third-round appearances at the US Open and French Open to go with his Melbourne run.
He has welcomed the extra attention and expectation as he prepares for a first-round clash with Australian qualifier Alex Bolt. Not that Edmund, a low-key character, will be getting carried away. He said: “I feel like I played my best-grass court tennis this year. It gives me good confidence.
“But it’s always, ‘don’t get too ahead of yourself’. You always have to earn your victory. I’m always keeping that in mind; trying to do the best I can to be positive, in a good head space.”
Edmund’s first task will be to better his very modest record at Wimbledon, with last year’s first-round victory over British qualifier Alex Ward his only success.
There have been positive signs so far, with a narrow loss to Australia’s Nick Kyrgios at Queen’s Club and then victory over Murray to reach the quarter-finals in Eastbourne.
He should not have too many problems overcoming 25-year-old Bolt, who is ranked 204th and has never won a main-draw match at a grand slam.
The pair have never met before, but Edmund is happy to learn on the job saying: “There’s always something out there, Tennis TV, YouTube.
“It doesn’t really matter about prep, you have to go out there and play your game.
“Ultimately that’s what I try to concentrate on. You tend to do more match-solving and fixing than the actual game plan.”
A possible third-round meeting with Serbia’s former Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic looms large and it would certainly be a disappointment if he did not get that far, with either Japan’s Yuichi Sugita or American Bradley Klahn his scheduled second-round opponent.
The other British man in action today is 19-year-old Jay Clarke, who will make his singles debut against Ernests Gulbis after being awarded a wild card.
But Clarke has already had a taste of what it is like to be a British player at Wimbledon after a surprise run to the third round of the doubles last year with 2016 folk hero Marcus Willis.
The pair even managed to upstage Roger Federer with their victory over defending champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hughes Herbert.