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The forgotten man of British tennis will be heading to Wimbledon, but the grass courts must wait for another year.
Kyle Edmund has not played a match since October and in April decided to go under the knife in an effort to cure a long-standing knee problem.
That meant missing Wimbledon for the first time since 2012, but the 26-year-old is in good spirits and working hard to be back on a match court as soon as possible.
Edmund admitted it stings being on the sidelines during the grass-court season, telling the PA news agency: “It’s not so much watching other people, it’s more knowing the feeling of being involved this time of year. It’s a real buzz.
“Playing on the grass as a Brit is always one of the highest points of the year. It’s tough to be missing that but it’s not a shock because I knew once I had my op that would be the case.
“I’ve just tried to accept that and say, ‘Get your body right and play again’. That’s been my focus and I feel like I’ve been pretty good in terms of mindset and staying positive. I’m doing everything I can to be back on court.”
Edmund seized the mantle when Andy Murray was first sidelined with hip problems, reaching the Australian Open semi-finals in 2018 and finishing that year inside the top 15.
But his left knee was already beginning to cause him problems by then and, although he mostly managed to play through the pain, Edmund ultimately decided surgery was the best option.
“I made the decision more for the long term that I wanted to sort this,” he said. “It’s tough but, regardless of how you feel, the enjoyment of competing and pushing is also something I like to do.
“It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself so, when you do have bad days, you nip it in the bud and you address it. It’s not the end of the world. I’m confident that I’ll get back. I still have years ahead of me and time to play.”
Andy Murray deleted tennis players from his social media accounts during the Australian Open because he found missing the tournament so painful, but Edmund will not be hiding away from Wimbledon.
The Yorkshireman is a sports nut and has been enjoying watching a whole range of action on TV during his enforced hiatus.
“I’ll watch for sure,” he said. “I watched a little bit of Queen’s, I watched quite a lot of the French Open. I’m still a fan. I love the sport so I want to watch. I’ll go in especially the first two days, watch the British guys.”
Edmund has allowed himself a light rehab schedule this week to enable him to be at Wimbledon, where he will also be dropping into sponsor evian’s VIP suite.
The mineral water brand invited people in the UK to nominate key workers for the chance to attend this year’s Championship, while it is asking for nominations of youth champions to host in 2022.
All evian bottles at Wimbledon this year are made from 100 per cent recycled plastic, while the hospitality suite is the first to be certified carbon neutral.
Once his Wimbledon duties are over, Edmund will get back to the rigorous rehab schedule that he hopes could see him back on court by the US Open at the end of August.
He said: “I’ve been hitting. I first started off doing loads of gym work and getting the knee stronger and allowing it to recover itself. For a few weeks I’ve been hitting now so I’ve started that process.
“It’s just really about getting the feeling and the confidence back, the strength back in it and tennis fitness as well, just because I haven’t played matches in a while.
“For the men’s game, you have to build it up ready to play five sets. It will take time but I’d hope definitely to be playing tournaments by the end of the year. It really depends on this next phase whether the US series is an option for me.
“I’m doing more, it’s getting stronger, it’s getting better, but you still have to respect the process and allow time. The biggest thing is patience. You can’t just wake up and be ready to go once you’ve had an operation.”