Edmund fends off Aussie assault

 - Dan Imhoff

No Murray, no worries for the Brits as Edmund cruises past teen wildcard De Minaur in first round.

Kyle Edmund.© Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Kyle Edmund may have found himself thrust into the ring sooner than expected as the great British hope in Andy Murray’s ongoing injury absence.

And barring a post Australian Open comedown, the South African-born 23-year-old is playing and talking increasingly like a man at ease filling that gaping void this season.

Enjoying a Grand Slam seeding for the first time at No.16, the Brit rose to the opening-round occasion with aplomb as he quashed any fears of an Aussie upset on Court 3 on Tuesday.

Dogged Aussie Alex De Minaur would run himself ragged and still find something in the tank to pick himself up again if that’s what it took; an opponent whose relentless will to win drew early comparisons to his slam-winning countryman Lleyton Hewitt, who ultimately took on a mentoring role with the 19-year-old.

But even with Hewitt in his corner on Tuesday, De Minaur had few answers to Edmund’s heavier blows – particularly off the stronger forehand wing – where on Roland-Garros’s slower terre battue the Brit had time to unfurl those wind-ups, opening up the court before ripping deep into the deuce court time and again.

Edmund eased to a 6-2 6-4 6-3 result over the 105th-ranked wildcard, his second this month after beating him in Estoril.

“Yeah, lots of sort of feelings going into the match. Once you get on it was good to really execute well, especially against a guy like Alex where it can get quite tough easily if you don't play well basically,” Edmund said.

Expectations in Murray’s absence have only grown since Edmund's Melbourne Park run and since he resurrected his season with a maiden final in Marrakech.

Subsequent victories over Novak Djokovic and David Goffin on the clay to reach the Madrid quarter-finals placed him in the limelight as the No.1 Brit heading into the season’s second Grand Slam.

“When you look back at your career, it's nice to be in the position to be the British No.1. I guess it's one of those things where you grow up sort of dream of doing or it would be nice to be in that position,” Edmund said.

“For me, it's the world ranking you obviously want to try and improve.

“The reality is it's a bit of a crossover for me improving but also Andy being injured, that's the reality. And Andy is, you can safely say, a top-four, top-five player, that's pretty much what he's been all his career.”

Edmund will face a stern test in his next assignment when he meets first-time titlist Martin Fucsovics.

The Hungarian world No.45 breezed past Canadian Vasek Pospisil 6-3 6-3 7-6(5) in his first match since he claimed the Geneva Open on Saturday.

It's a fourth straight year in the second round at Roland-Garros for Edmund, but he's not content to stop there; this is a man now playing and talking like a repeat of his deep run Down Under was no fluke.