Kyle Edmund returns to the stage where he had his biggest moment, hoping the Australian Open could be the beginning of the road to the top of the game.
The 28-year-old is at Melbourne Park for the first time in three years, after missing most of the last two seasons due to a chronic left knee problem that required three surgeries.
His ranking is now at 583, far behind the days he entered the top 20 after running a spectacular semi-final in 2018.
Edmund’s ambitions are much more modest this time around, with the Yorkshire player simply grateful that he’s back on the pitch and feeling healthy enough to compete.
About her knee problem, she said: “This is something I always have to deal with. But the break took a really long time, so I’m so thankful to be able to play again.
“I know I have the game to play at the highest level and I hope my work and strength in my rehab will keep me fit to be competitive.”
Edmund dipped his toes into the water last summer, playing mixed doubles at Wimbledon in his first game since October 2020, then entering five events in North America, including the US Open.
He then stepped back to train more and said: “I was able to play but not at the standard or physically at the level I wanted.”
Edmund returned to the tour playing two ATP events in Adelaide last week and, despite losing both times in the first round, pushed 28th-placed Miomir Kecmanovic in two close sets in the second set.
The first saw him lose 6-3 6-2 to leading young Italian Jannik Sinner, whom he would face again in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday.
“When you don’t play a lot of tennis, you’re always looking for rhythm,” Edmund said. “In the end, I felt like the[Sinner]match was going really fast and it was over before I knew it, but the second one was much better.
“Being here has allowed me to work with the best guys in the lineup. A good leveler to see where I am. Just putting myself out there has all kinds of money in the bank.
Edmund stepped into the spotlight after Andy Murray had been left vacant by hip problems there five years ago, his sledgehammer forehand led him to victories over Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov and heralded a very bright future.
Later in the same season, however, the series started to get chuckles, and their two visits as they both ended in first-round losses.
“When I think of 2018, walking on the court, in the player’s field or on the court are always good memories,” he said. “But it feels like a long time ago because a lot has happened since then. I know I can play well on these courts because I did.”
Sinner represents a rough opening, but of course Edmund will content himself with feeling that he is heading in the right direction as he pursues victories.
“I feel like it’s going to be a tough game for me right now if I play with someone 90 or 80 or a qualifier who is on the lower end because I don’t have a lot of wins,” he said.
“You say, ‘Oh, I want to come back now and play better now.’ But deep down I know it takes time. It took years of training and experience in matches to get to where I was before. So, when you get down right now, you suddenly don’t get it back.”