The Caja Mágica provides a tough test to anyone hoping to lift the trophy. With ample space around court and a perfect surface for movement, the players need to bring their A-game if they are to perform. On Wednesday, with participants bidding for a place in the last sixteen of the Mutua Madrid Open, not even the favourites are free from danger.
Kyle Edmund provided a perfect example. The Briton saw off Serbian player Novak Djokovic in a to-and-fro clash, beating the ex-world number one 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 in one hour and 42 minutes. It was a close encounter in which the Belgrade native was unable to maintain his intensity from start to finish in order to pull away from his opponent. “There are parts of my game that aren’t working. I have to keep working and trust that my game will improve when the matches get tougher”, stated Novak. “Particularly in the biggest tournaments you have to step up to the mark. Today I was unable to do that”.
The Balkan player had clear chances to turn the match around. After winning the second set and establishing a promising position in the third (2-2, 0-40), Djokovic could only look on as Edmund replied with a burst of energy to take victory. “I’m disappointed I lost this match, but it is comforting to see the standard of my tennis progressing”, said Djokovic, trying to focus on the positive. “It’s not the end of the world. I’ve played in this sport for years and I’ve had quite a lot of success, so I try to remember that and to feel grateful”.
Now, after his second win of the week, Edmund will be looking for a place in the quarters against Belgian player David Goffin, 7-5, 6-3 winner against Dutch player Robin Haase in the match that opened the day’s play in Stadium 3.
The eighth seed took advantage of his lightning reflexes to open his Mutua Madrid Open campaign with a win. With impressive anticipation on the baseline, Goffin stole no fewer than 47% of the points when returning serve to tip the balance of the tie in his favour.
A quarter-finalist in 2017, the Belgian got off to a confident start demonstrating his quick adaptation to the Madrid clay. As the runner-up of last year’s Nitto ATP Finals, and now firmly in the ATP Top 10, the player from Rocourt is looking like he could upset the favourites in the Spanish capital.
For his part, Kevin Anderson had to dig deep to make it through to the last sixteen in the Caja Mágica. The South African came back to win 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-2 against Kazakhstani player Mikhail Kukushkin in two hours and 12 minutes.
The sixth seed, who was just four points away from defeat, used his aggressive style of tennis to recover on court 4. Anderson connected with 25 aces and won 82% of the points on his first serve to seal victory.
In the third round of the tournament he will meet the German Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.