Kyle Edmund captured the first ATP World Tour title of his career on Sunday in dramatic fashion, defeating Frenchman Gael Monfils 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(4) to win the European Open in Antwerp.
If there was any doubt that the moment meant a lot to the British No. 1, Edmund broke down into tears as he walked over to celebrate with his team after crushing a forehand winner down the line to clinch his victory.
“I’m obviously very happy. A lot of hard work goes into this. So it’s just emotional,” Edmund said on court. “You always remember this one. Gael made me work for it today, that’s for sure, so credit to him. I’m just so happy.”
When Edmund arrived in Marrakech this year, he had been 0-5 in tour-level semi-finals. But the Brit advanced to his first final there at the Grand Prix Hassan II. The second time in a championship match proved the charm for the 23-year-old, who managed to overcome Monfils despite the Frenchman winning four more points in the match.
"I've been playing well this week, so I knew I had a really good chance," Edmund said. "But after going down in the first set, you always have to stay positive, but just reevaluate and see how the match is going. So it was good to turn the match and just keep at it, not panic and just trust that your opportunity will come."
In crunch time, it was Edmund's fearlessness that prevailed. Throughout the match, the top seed dictated play, especially off the forehand wing. But it was a tremendous backhand down the line at 5/4 in the final-set tie-break that gave him his first championship point, which he converted after a physical two hours and 27 minutes of play.
"It's the final, so you just give everything you've got," Edmund said. "At the end of the day, it's not really about how you play, it's about getting the result in the final, which is what I've got."
It has been the best season of Edmund’s career, as he got off to a great start by reaching the Australian Open semi-finals. Edmund cracked the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on 14 May, and he will now match his career-best of No. 14 on Monday thanks to the 250 points he earns along with €109,310 in prize money.
Monfils was trying to capture his second title of 2018. If he won, it would have been the first time he earned multiple trophies in a season.
But it was an impressive week nonetheless for the entertaining 32-year-old, who arrived in Belgium on a four-match tour-level losing streak. But that did not stop the sixth seed from performing well, despite falling to 7-21 in finals. Monfils leaves Belgium with 150 ATP Ranking points and €57,570.
Did You Know?
Edmund is the 13th first-time champion on the ATP World Tour this season. And as World No. 15, the Brit is the highest-ranked player of the group. Stefanos Tsitsipas also triumphed for the first time on Sunday, doing so in Stockholm.