July 3, 2019
Kyle Edmund played through the pain in a desperate effort to score what would have been a supremely brave victory against Fernando Verdasco.
But it simply wasn’t to be.
You cannot play at this level and expect to prevail once your movement has been significantly hampered.
Edmund winced and bent over as he appeared to feel an old knee injury when virtually on the brink of victory.
The Brit was two sets and a break up at one stage, as he looked ready for round three.
But Kyle couldn’t close out after he began to worry about his physical condition and suffer with every twist and turn.
Verdasco smelt blood. He came back ruthlessly and efficiently. He has become used to upsetting British hopes.
The Spaniard took out Andy Murray twice towards the end of last year and he had even fallen out with the Scot over an in-match coaching row.
Edmund had been so keen to enhance his own reputation as Murray’s long-term successor. But eventually it was the Brits’ nemesis who won through 4-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-4.
One of Edmund’s impulsive backhand volleys towards the end of the third set was simply sensational. By the fifth he was sending similar volleys weakly into the net.
It was sad to see Edmund deteriorate along with the state of his injured knee. Though he saw a doctor and bravely continued, it was already too late to cope with a marathon.
Wounded warriors are seldom able to do so.
Meanwhile Reilly Opelka reminded everyone of his Wimbledon credentials on Day Three by downing the great Stan Wawrinka.
The former Junior Wimbledon champion denied Wawrinka the chance of a Career Slam for another year.
And Opelka must have been feeling nearly seven feet tall – because he is.
As for Wawrinka, it looks as though Wimbledon will be one Grand Slam title that eludes him.
He says that grass doesn’t suit his game. But it is a shame that Stan The Man has never found a way to adapt successfully.
He had his moments against Reilly Opelka, the 6ft 11inches-tall American 21-year-old.
Wawrinka’s beautiful single-handed backhand, undoubtedly one of the best shots in tennis, was on show and fizzing again during their five-set epic.
Indeed he was two sets to one up and looked to have recovered completely from early doubts.
But Stan just didn’t produce enough power and purpose on a surface he finds less than helpful under foot.
When you are as tall as Opelka and you can generate 140mph with your serve, you just keep applying the pressure and hope the older man will crack.
Eventually that’s what happened as Opelka won a war of attrition 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 8-6.
Could he be a dark horse to go deep into the second week? Milos Raonic will have something to say about that.
But Opelka loves the grass, he has the game, he knows what it feels like to win here.
Even if it doesn’t happen for Reilly this year, we could be seeing a star in the making.
And that would be great news for the American game – and tennis in general – after a lack of US male success at the Slams in recent times.