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Kyle Edmund crashes out of Wimbledon 2018 to Novak Djokovic to end British title hopes
The British No.1 made it uncomfortable for the Serb, who eventually prevailed on Centre Court
Kyle Edmund was unable to make it a double English sporting celebration as was defeated in four sets to Novak Djokovic at the third round of Wimbledon.
The 23-year-old took to Centre Court mere minutes after England sealed their place in the World Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win over Sweden.
He won the opening set but was eventually worn down by the 12th seed and three-time champion, who triumphed 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4.
Djokovic showed his unhappiness with the crowd on several occasions and he eschewed his now customary demonstration of love for the fans at the end, instead performing a leaping fist-pump towards his box.
For a set and a half, Edmund had Centre Court dreaming of another home hope to cheer deep into the second week.
He bullied Djokovic with his forehand, found huge first serves when he needed them and had one of the best players to ever pick up a racket gesticulating to his box in exasperation.
One of the advantages to Edmund’s low-key personality is he has appeared utterly unperturbed by carrying the weight of home expectation.
A few nerves were evident as he coughed up two break points in his opening service game but he saved them both and a forehand bulldozed down the line at deuce settled him down.
Soon it was Djokovic who looked uncomfortable. The number of times he bounced the ball before serving, always an indicator of his state of mind, grew rapidly.
In the seventh game he gave in to Edmund’s assault, the 21st seed, who beat Djokovic on clay in Madrid in May, taking his fourth break point to wild acclaim.
Serving for the set, Edmund sent down a nervy double fault and found himself at 0-30 but, although he was not landing his first serve nearly as often as he would have liked, it was there in the key moments and he clinched the set with an bomb which clocked a speed of 131 mph.
He was under consistent pressure at the start of the second set but repelled it, showing the all-round improvements in his game – a deft volley to save break point in the second game before winning the the type of backhand-to-backhand rally with Djokovic that would have been unthinkable 12 months ago.
But Djokovic, who had served superbly from the start, had settled from the baseline and was starting to dictate most of the rallies.
Edmund produced the shot of the match at 4-3 behind with a forehand down the line on the run that Andy Murray would have been proud of, but ultimately that game proved the turning point.
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An Edmund double fault gave Djokovic his first break and by the time the home player won another game he was 2-0 down in the third set.
The Yorkshireman had a couple of glimpses to get back on level terms but could not take them and Djokovic was fired up by the reaction of the crowd when he was finally given a time violation, twice blowing kisses towards the cheering fans.
The Edmund forehand had been rather blunted but he turned to it again in a dramatic seventh game of the fourth set.
First Edmund was furious when an over-rule saw Djokovic awarded a point, before the Serbian reacted with incredulity when what looked a double bounce as Edmund scrambled to retrieve a drop volley was not given.
Edmund ended up saving four break points but in his next service game his resistance was broken and Djokovic moved through to a meeting with Russia’s Karen Khachanov on Monday.