Kyle Edmund insists he has nothing to lose in his quest to halt Novak Djokovic’s unbeaten 2020.
World No1 Djokovic eased to his 24th straight win of the year for the loss of just six games in the first round of the US Open against Damir Dzumhur.
Edmund, in contrast, was taken to four sets by Alexander Bublik, winning 2-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-0 to set up a seventh career meeting against Djokovic, and the unseeded Briton is looking for a second victory over the Serbian.
“It’s a match for me [where] I’ve got nothing to lose,” said Edmund, whose sole victory over Djokovic came at the Madrid Open in 2018. “I have the experience of beating him, but he has beaten me a bunch of times. He’s a top player and the type of player who is tough to break down.”
Edmund has a difficult task in his bid to reach a Grand Slam third round for the first time since Wimbledon in 2018, but the world No44 is buoyed by having bounced back against Bublik.
“It was a nice win in terms of the mentality,” he said. “I play well when I’m expressing myself. When I start matches not in the right way I have to force that out of me. It was a good match to win. I could have fallen off and gone down two sets to love or two sets to one.”
Djokovic remains the overwhelming favourite to win at Flushing Meadows and extend his career Grand Slam wins to 18 in the absence of an injured Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, who opted not to play in New York.
Of his 100 per cent record this year, Djokovic said: “Do I want to keep the streak going? Of course I do. But am I thinking about it as a priority every single day? No. But it’s there, it’s an additional motivation for me, and it fuels me to play even stronger and even better and play to the right intensity in every match.”
Earlier on day one of the US Open, Edmund’s compatriot Cameron Norrie recovered from a two-set deficit for a marathon 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 win over ninth seed Diego Schwartzmann.
Andy Murray will hope to join his countrymen in the second round when he takes on Yoshihito Nishioka this evening, while there is an all-British encounter in the women’s draw between Jo Konta and Heather Watson.
Also in the women’s draw, 16-year-old Coco Gauff’s hopes were ended by 31st seed Anastasija Sevastova, while Naomi Osaka bounced back from an injury worry in a tight 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Misaki Doi.
Osaka arrived on court wearing a face mask with Breonna Taylor’s name on it, a nod to a black woman shot dead by police back in March.
Of the tribute, the world No4 said “I have seven. It is quite sad, seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names. Hopefully, I’ll get to the final and you will see them all. I just want to spread awareness.”
Meanwhile, officials were hoping to contain any potential spread of Covid-19 after Benoit Paire’s positive test.
Players who had been in close contact with the Frenchman — believed to be 11 in all — were put in “a bubble within a bubble”, as Kristina Mladenovic put it.
Mladenovic had played cards with compatriot Paire but was cleared to compete. The 30th seed said: “Since then, for me, it was kind of a nightmare. I’m just very grateful I can be on the court today and safe, to get the win is amazing and I didn’t expect that.”