Prospects From Britain and U.S. Meet: http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.co...medium=twitter
While more than one did advance to the second round and eight are in the top 100, none surfaced in the third round to make for a 101-year low. It was amid the gloomy backdrop that Edmund faced the American Stefan Kozlov in Thursday’s quarterfinals of the boys’ singles.
Edmund prevailed, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, with Kozlov’s leg cramp in the third set leading to a less than nail-biting conclusion.
In this case, glancing at the junior rankings beforehand would not have provided an indication of the intrigue of the matchup on Court 3 and the players’ potential.
Kozlov, at No. 21 to head the American boys, was, at 15, the second-youngest in the boys’ singles draw. Edmund, three years older, sat at 62nd, the result of sparse participation at junior events. This week marks his farewell junior tournament. Both have turned professional.
Edmund shares the same fitness trainers as Murray, and like Britain’s major threat in the women’s pro ranks, Laura Robson, was born outside the United Kingdom. Kozlov was born in Macedonia to Russian parents and moved to the United States when he was, he said, 1 or 2. His father, Andrei, operates the Kozlov Tennis Academy in Pembroke Pines, Fla., and taught his son tennis.
Kozlov upset third-seed Alexander Zverev in the third round, aided when Zverev retired in the third set with a shoulder injury.
He hits his forehand and backhand with more oomph than his 5-foot-10 frame would suggest, moves well and possesses a nifty backhand slice, as Edmund discovered. His demeanor also impressed. Kozlov did not fuss when he began to visibly suffer from the cramp in his left leg at 3-3 in the third.
“I can’t let the other guy know I’m out of it,” he said.
He was, however, realistically out of it. Kozlov could not push off properly on his serve and in rallies, and the fifth-seeded Edmund took advantage. Edmund claimed 14 of the final 16 points.
“It was really tough to set your mind straight after starting to cramp,” Kozlov said.
His start was much better. Kozlov broke first, at 4-4, and fended off three break points to seal the opening set. When he broke again to begin the second, Kozlov took control. But instead of building on his advantage, he was broken immediately. Still backed by the crowd, even if small American flags could be seen, Edmund’s forehand – his weapon – stabilized. Outgoing and oft criticized L.T.A. chief executive Roger Draper was one of those in the stands.
Great Britain, thus, got the better of the United States on the Fourth of July. Barely.
“He’s a very good player,” said Edmund, a winner in doubles later Thursday. “He’s definitely one for the future. He still has a lot of Wimbledons to play. I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts winning some.”
If Edmund captures the junior title, he would become the first British male to achieve the feat at Wimbledon in the Open Era. What a lift it would be as he seeks to improve his pro ranking and give Murray company in the top 100.
In the future, Kozlov wants to ease American woes.
“I have to work hard over the next couple of years and hopefully I get some wildcards and win a couple of rounds and get my ranking up there,” Kozlov said. “And stay there. Maybe be the top American, hopefully. It’s a goal.”