Kyle Edmund completed a tough, three-set victory over Gael Monfils to win his first ever ATP title at the Antwerp Open on Sunday.
Good things come to those who wait, or so the saying goes and Kyle Edmund must have thought that he might have had to wait at least a bit more for his first ATP Tour title, after the first set versus Gael Monfils.
The The British number one was playing his second final of the year, in the Belgium city of Antwerp, after having reached the final of the Marrakech Open in April, only to fall short to Pablo Andujar in straight sets. His rise however in 2018 has been steady and noteworthy.
He made his first ever Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open in January, subsequently becoming his nation’s highest ranked player, and moved into the Top 15 on the tour for the first time ever. He also clinched a maiden doubles crown, teaming up with Cameron Norrie to win the Estoril Open in May and beat Novak Djokovic in Madrid, showing his potential to the wider audience.
Despite that, he went into Sunday’s final as the underdog versus the seven-time winner on the tour and veteran from Paris.
Monfils won the first set 6-3, after breaking the 23 year old’s first service game of the match to go 2-0 up and both players held their serve for the rest of the set. The first set ended when Monfils approached the net confidently, and Edmund could only hit his return wide cross court.
Edmund opened the second set serving and he was able to at least start this one better than the first, as he held his serve at 40-15, to build up some confidence going forward in the encounter.
As the second set progressed, it was clear that the South African born player upped his game.
He started hitting his ground-strokes flatter, he moved Monfils around the court a lot more and he kept attacking the Frenchman’s back-hand. Monfils for his part, in the first set came into net and finished off several points, however, Edmund’s more aggressive baseline play, prevented him from repeating that tactic here in the second set.
Edmund then broke serve to go 3-1 up and held onto his next service game, despite facing some intense pressure from the Parisan, who had a set point to even the score. However, Monfils did eventually break Edmund’s serve in the second in the 7th game, after Edmund hit a backhand into the net, and it was 4-3.
Both players held their service games for the rest of the set and they were headed for what would be the first of two tie-breaks.
Edmund raced to a 6-2 lead in the breaker, as he thoroughly dominated it especially with his powerful forehand winners. His winning of the set however, was not as pronounced, as he hit a forehand that clipped the top of the net and trickled over, leaving his opponent with no chance to get to the ball in time.
The decider contained several long rallies, as both men, dug deep to find that extra bit of energy to take home the title. Edmund and Monfils held their serves in the deciding set, despite facing close shaves a few times, and we were heading to a title tie-break to decide a champion.
This tie-break was a lot closer than the second though, as the title on the line made the players raise their games to greater heights.
Edmund, however, found himself up 5-4 with two points on his serve to close out the match, the week and the tournament, and he duly took his opportunity. The first he won, when he hit a powerful forehand(yet again in this final) and Monfils could only block it into the net. He then served at 6-4 with the chance to close it off.
He wasted little time, and after a few back and forth’s between the players, Edmund hit a ferocious forehand winner down the line, to win the point, the tie-break, the match and the title. It was fitting that his first ever win came via a powerful forehand winner, a shot, he has relied on heavily in his career and in particular this year, to make major steps up the ladder on the ATP tour.
Edmund has now climbed up to the 14th rank on the ATP Rankings.