It’s a long way from the hallowed ground of Wimbledon to the qualifying round of the ATP Challenger Tour stop in Winnipeg, Canada. But after three knee surgeries and nearly two years away from the world of professional tennis, Kyle Edmunds is happy to be back on the court, anywhere, anytime.
After returning to singles court at Challenger level last week, this week the former British world number 14 will play his first tour-level singles match since October 2020 in Vienna, when he competes at the Citi Open in Washington, DC.
“So happy to be back,” says the 27-year-old. “There were long periods where I couldn’t see when I would be back. There was a time when there was no progress, no improvement. But He was ready to end all avenues to return. I didn’t pick up a racquet for five or six months. I just wanted to play tennis.”
Edmund returned to tour life in June playing mixed doubles at Wimbledon. He said it was a blessing to be back with his teammates and to feel the atmosphere of professional tennis again.
“I needed it, it was too long,” Edmund said of his return to the All England Club. “I needed to feel it again, prepare for game day and feel those nerves again.”
“Playing in Challengers then… it was about getting back on the singles court. I didn’t care where I played. It was my first singles match in a long time. It wasn’t about the results, it was about playing a match and knowing where I was. It was a big checkbox. I played three matches in a week and got some wins, so that was an advantage. Too many positives to go away with me. ,
Kyle Edmund won the 2020 New York Open.
Edmund began to notice pain in his left knee in 2018, but endured it until November 2020, when he decided to go under the knife, never thinking it would take three surgeries (also in March 2021 and May 2022). ) would be the first. He has been taken out of action for 20 months in singles. “The fact that it took three surgeries shows that it was complicated and not something that could be easily corrected,” he said.
Edmund’s compatriot Andy Murray, who knows a thing or two about returning to the ATP Tour with Metal Hip, was asked about the various physical and mental challenges Edmund faces at the Citi Open on Saturday.
“I think one of the hardest things is when you’ve been injured for a while and it’s pushing yourself hard enough to test your body and prepare it to play sports because you Don’t want to get hurt in practice,” Murray said of finding the right balance. “You can also go a little raw in sports because you’re not pushing your body hard enough in the exercises.”
Murray also talked about the need to be patient and focus on long-term goals rather than win-loss numbers in the first few weeks of his comeback. Edmund says there’s a lot of wisdom in Murray’s words, noting that it can be hard to know exactly how much emphasis to place on the practice court.
“After so much time you have to be realistic. You can’t kill yourself every day,” said Edmund, who has a protected Pepperstone ATP ranking of 48. “But this is the height of the men’s game and you really can’t be behind.”
“I just wanted to get back on the pitch when I felt as prepared as I could. I know my first matches won’t be perfect, but I need to go out and test the waters.”
Kyle Edmund defeated Gael Monfils in Antwerp 2018.
Limited on what he could physically do during his enforced breaks, Edmund bought a camera and spent time photographing everyday life near his home, including trees and birds. He also taught himself basic photo editing to enhance his images.
His new hobby was to escape the worldly rehab system, which he admitted took a toll on him mentally. “There was nothing to do when you woke up. I didn’t enjoy that side,” he said. But the winner of 117 tour-level matches and two titles in Antwerp (2018) and New York (2020), he was inspired by Murray’s return from two hip surgeries.
“When you look at what Andy is doing with his various surgeries and times, you can see how he had to work really hard to come back and go through a little pain. I found that with this type of injury you have to be very self-motivated, because you can pack when you’re out for 20 months and three surgeries. If you don’t want it, don’t bother working hard. Inam is coming back on the pitch and enjoying it as much as I can.”
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“It showed me that I love the sport. If I didn’t love it, it would have been easy to walk away. There were so many opportunities to do that.”
By opting not to play qualifying at the ATP Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati, this week will be his biggest event ahead of the ATP 500 US Open in Washington. (He’ll also play another Challenger and the Winston-Salem Open.) So what does success look like in the coming weeks?
“Coming out of the trip felt like I didn’t have too many bad days physically,” he said. “I can deal with playing bad tennis, but physically it would be nice to say that I played five tournaments in eight weeks, he did a knee test and it responded well. I’d be happy with that.”
“Naturally I’d like to throw some results in there, but this season it’s not so much about results. I can’t get results if I’m not on tour consistently.”