Comeback man Berdych hammers Edmund

  • Michael Beattie

Kyle Edmund became the second top 16 seed casualty of the men’s draw on day 1 of Australian Open 2019, beaten by fellow former semi-finalist Thomas Berdych 6-3 6-0 7-5.

The No.13 seed, who reached the last four at Melbourne Park in 2018, joins No.9 seed John Isner among Monday’s also-rans after failing to make any impact against 2014 and 2015 semi-finalist Berdych. The Czech hammered 37 winners to the Briton’s 25 in an impressive return to form, setting up a second-round showdown with Robin Haase.

“It’s been a very long six months that I was out,” said Berdych, who briefly contemplated retirement while recovering from a back injury that ruled him out of Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018.

“I was feeling really good on court. I like this Melbourne heat; it’s been so many years that I’ve loved coming back.

“The draw for the first round was very difficult – I was not seeded – and playing Kyle for the first match is not easy. I’m very pleased with the way I played, and it’s a good sign for me for the rest of the tournament.”

Tomas Berdych has started his AO2019 campaign in resounding fashion

Berdych was quickly into his rhythm on Melbourne Arena, racing to a 3-0 lead that proved enough to secure the opening set. The former world No.4, who arrived at Melbourne Park ranked No.57, punished a string of short returns with clean winners, denying the Briton a route back into the set.

Things got even worse for Edmund in the second set as the shadows cast by the setting sun edged across the court. His serve and forehand lacked their typical venom as Berdych fired back with interest, swatting winners that left the 24-year-old rooted to the spot.

Edmund hunkered down in the third set but still he had not fashioned a break point on the Berdych serve, the 33-year-old firing 12 aces and winning 88 per cent of points behind his first delivery as the business end of the set approached.

Unforced errors
14 Tomas Berdych
36 Kyle Edmund

That all changed with Berdych serving to stay in the set at 4-5. A loose forehand drive volley set the tone for a ropey game from the Czech, who watch both a forehand and backhand winner sail past as Edmund reached set point. But Berdych rallied, hooking a forehand winner into the corner before Edmund pushed a volley into the tramlines as the chance passed.

Just as Edmund seemed to have dented Berdych’s defences, his own were breached once more. From 40-0 up in the next game he crumbled, coughing up a string of errors before Berdych hammered back-to-back forehand winners to move within a game of the win, serving out a love game with an ace in one hour, 42 minutes.

MORE: Australian Open 2019 men’s singles results

“I’m just trying to enjoy every single moment on court, and today was another good day,” Berdych added. “Right now, I think my body is paying me off – I gave him a break, and now the body’s going to hold for… let’s see how long.”