Kyle Edmund was beaten by Casper Ruud on his return to Grand Slam tennis but gave a decent account of himself against the fifth seed at the US Open.
Edmund had not played a singles match at any of tennis’ biggest events since the US Open in 2020, after which he underwent three knee operations before finally making his return earlier this summer.
He was given a very tough draw against French Open finalist Ruud, who is a contender for the title, and came up short in a 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 defeat in sweltering conditions at Flushing Meadows.
But Edmund should feel encouraged that he is not too far away as he treads the long road back to what he hopes will be a return to the higher echelons of the game.
Ranked as high as 14th in the world in 2018, the year he also made the semi-finals of the Australian Open, Edmund had been troubled by the knee issue for some time before deciding he needed to step away from the court.
The former British number one’s big weapon, his thumping forehand, was still very much in evidence as he took on Ruud, but the Norwegian has firepower of his own.
After losing the opening set, Edmund threatened a comeback when he fought back from a break down to make it 5-5 in the second.
But the 27-year-old could not find the dominance on serve that he needed and was ultimately too error prone to really trouble Ruud.
The Norwegian will face Tim van Rijthoven in the second round after the Dutchman saved seven match points as he came from two sets down to beat qualifier Zhizheng Zhang.
The Chinese player lead 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-5 when his first three match points came and went. Van Rijthoven then saved four more match points in the tie-breaker before going on to take the set. He then comfortably won the fourth set before a solid fifth-setter saw him claim a 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (11-9), 6-1, 6-4 in just under four hours.
Zhang was the first player from mainland China to play in the men’s singles main draw at the US Open.
The winner of the Ruud-Van Rijthoven clash will face either 29th seed Tommy Paul or Sebastian Korda in the third round after the two Americans secured battling opening-round wins. Paul defeated Bernabe Zapata Miralles from Spain in five sets while Korda needed four sets to see off qualifier Facunda Bagnis from Argentina.
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