Kyle Edmund has had bigger wins on bigger stages, such as during his Australian Open semi-final run in January. But the 23-year-old might have earned one of his most meaningful victories on Wednesday at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne.
The top Brit beat mentor and countryman Andy Murray 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the quarter-finals of the ATP World Tour 250 event. Murray, a former World No. 1 on the comeback from hip surgery, hadn't lost to Edmund in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (2-0), including a 2016 matchup on grass at the Fever-Tree Championships.
"To beat him... It sort of shows I have improved a lot. It's difficult to put it into words... To have that win definitely gives me a lot of confidence and belief," said Edmund. "I guess the mental side of that, as well, it's a tough thing... It's a nice win."
Murray, however, beat Stan Wawrinka in his Eastbourne opener and competed well against his confident countryman on Wednesday. More importantly, probably for him, he showed no visible signs of his hip injury affecting him on court. Murray raced behind the baseline, chasing cannons from Edmund's forehand, without pulling up.
It was that shot, though, the same one that has carried Edmund to a home inside the Top 20, that helped him beat his 31-year-old off-season training partner. Edmund broke in the opening game when Murray shanked a forehand off the court, and he littered their rallies with big forehands, forcing Murray to stay feet behind the baseline. Murray tried to pick on Edmund's weaker wing, his backhand, but Edmund defended it well, rarely going a few shots without seeing another forehand.
In the second set, it looked as if Murray might rally. At 1-1, he came back from 15/40, peppering the crowd with his familiar rally cries of “Let's go!” and “Come on!” But Edmund was too solid and too strong, even when on the run and even when hitting his backhand. He stumbled while first serving for the match at 5-2, but Edmund recovered in the 10th game and held to 15.
"I'm really happy that Kyle's doing really well," said Murray. "It's great for British tennis... Obviously this is a really good thing for British tennis that, with the stage of my career I'm at, [there is] another player at the top of the game. Hopefully he'll be competing for the biggest tournaments."
Edmund will next meet Kazahkstan's Mikhail Kukushkin, who saved all seven break points to beat Spaniard David Ferrer 6-2, 6-0.