Kyle Edmund will face on Wednesday the tough task of handing World No. 1 Novak Djokovic his first loss of the season. The former World No. 14 knows that springing the upset in the second round of the US Open will be extremely tough.
“It’s the hardest match on Tour right now, rankings, form, everything really. He’s the guy in the best form, the guy to beat,” Edmund said of Djokovic. “It’s going to be a very tough match for many, many reasons. Also a great test for me to see where I’m at with my game.”
With that said, the Briton knows that all eyes will be on Djokovic. The Serbian is 24-0 in 2020, chasing his 18th Grand Slam title and fresh off winning the Western & Southern Open.
“All the pressure is on him in terms of he’s expected to win and I’m not. That phrase, ‘go and have a free hit’ is okay, but you can’t just go out there and swing,” Edmund said. “Just swinging doesn’t mean you’re going to have any better success or win more points, because you can’t just go and swing against Djokovic. You have to be very disciplined when you swing. You can’t just hit through him as well. The way he plays doesn’t allow you to do that.”
Edmund has beaten Djokovic before, defeating the Serbian in three sets at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open. Although he trails their ATP Head2Head series 1-5, the 25-year-old will rely on that experience to remember how he felt and the tactics he utilised.
“It was a big win for me. It was one of my biggest wins in my career mentally,” Edmund said. “He’s just such a tough player to break down. I have an aggressive game, I have success breaking down people, but there’s a reason he’s World No. 1. It takes a lot of resilience to play against him and sometimes you can play well and have a really good game plan, [but it] doesn’t necessarily mean it works out.”
Does Djokovic force players to beat themselves with his game style and reputation?
“Probably that comes down to belief if you could beat him. Everyone knows it’s very hard to beat Novak, so if you know that’s hard, you can maybe look for the quick points, the quick fixes, not staying tough,” Edmund said. “I know he’s extremely tough to beat. I had one positive experience against him, but all his records and his form show he’s a very good tennis player as well.”
The World No. 44, who won this year’s New York Open, knows that while it will be difficult, he has to make sure he plays his best tennis before worrying about anything else.
“It’s the toughest match right now,” Edmund said. “I’ve really got to go out there and focus on myself really before worrying about him.
“When I say I have to focus on myself and not worry about him, my game is about me expressing myself and certainly when I play the better guys, that’s my strength. My strength isn’t trying to play them at their game and beat them. I have to play my game.