Kyle Edmund's Wimbledon 2018 is on the line against Novak Djokovic – how can he beat him?

Novak Djokovic (left) and Kyle Edmund

Wimbledon 2018 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club, Wimbledon Dates: 2-15 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs and the BBC Sport website and app; Live Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra commentary; Text commentary online.

A Wimbledon duel between Kyle Edmund v Novak Djokovic of 2016 would likely have resulted in one outcome.

But an elbow injury and personal issues have affected the 12-time Grand Slam champion’s displays since, while the new British number one has made at least the quarter-finals in five ATP tournaments this year.

Edmund also recorded his first victory in four attempts over the former world number one with a win at May’s Madrid Masters.

The Briton is now a worthy adversary, but who will come out on top when they meet in the third match on Centre Court on Saturday?

Is there enough in the artillery to overpower Djokovic?

Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith has both watched and nurtured the development of Edmund since the 23-year-old made his Davis Cup debut in 2014.

He has been impressed with the progress made so far and is adamant Edmund has enough ability to defeat the Serb. However, he warned that the Yorkshire player will have to be at near 100% to overcome Djokovic – the 12th seed, and current world number 21.

“Kyle’s been displaying three main areas of improvement: the rhythm and timing of the serve – he’s posting higher speeds,” Smith said.

“Then there’s the return of serve, especially on grasscourt – he’s making way more balls. And the movement – he’s looking physically strong.

“All those three components will need to be firing because Djokovic will be the people’s favourite.”

Former British men’s number one John Lloyd says Edmund possesses the right elements to overcome his more illustrious opponent.

“He has tremendous strike ability from his first serve and forehand – his forehand is in the top five in the world,” said the 63-year-old.

“Since reaching the 2018 Australian Open semi-final his backhand – which was his weak link – is very good now. His movement is also better, although he doesn’t have the flexibility like Djokovic or Andy Murray.

“He’s not a one-pace player and has the weapons to beat Djokovic.”

Should Edmund target Djokovic’s weaknesses?

Kyle Edmund (left) and Novak Djokovic

Prior to this year’s tournament, world number five Marin Cilic told The Tennis Podcast that Djokovic was not reading the ball as he once and was not punishing his opponent’s weak serves.

“Just looking from the other side of the net, I feel that in some shots he was maybe executing them a little bit better [before the injury],” Cilic said after beating the Serb in the final at Queen’s in June.

“Even today, I didn’t have such a good percentage executing the first serve and he was giving me some chance to stay with him. I had a lot of second serves and some of them he was missing.”

Lloyd believes Edmund should not focus on the three-time champion’s weakness, but instead focus on his own strengths.

“Look, you take care of your own business,” he said.

“He has to believe the way he is playing will be good enough. His coaching team will be telling him that he’s playing better than Djokovic.

“It’s liking having a hypnotist – not seeing what the other player looks like.

“Kyle has to feel that in tight situations, he is the master.”

An Edmund win?

Day six order of play

Smith thinks the Briton’s success over the 31-year-old on clay might have given him the edge.

“I think Kyle has a chance, although in a match of that magnitude he will have to play well and serve as well as he has been,” added the Scot.

“Let’s not forget he’s got a win against Djokovic already this year and that counts for a lot mentally.”

Lloyd added: “This is the most interesting match of the tournament so far: it’s a gauge of how far both players have come, for different reasons. On paper you would make Edmund the favourite.

“Djokovic’s aura hasn’t disappeared, but it has waned. In terms of fitness, he’s probably not in the shape he was before.

“It’s a difficult one to predict, but I find it difficult not to look past Novak. If I had money to put on then I’d still back Novak.”

The view of Team Edmund

Fredrik Rosengren

BBC Sport caught up with Edmund’s coach Fredrik Rosengren during Friday’s practice.

He says his player’s victory over Djokovic in Madrid has been vital for his state of mind going into Saturday’s encounter.

“Every match when you beat the bigger names, you grow in confidence and know that you deserve to play these guys,” he said.

“Whatever happens on Saturday it will be a good thing for his improvement to play that match. It will help him the next time he steps onto the centre court anywhere in the world. It’s about playing big names on big courts.”

He added: “We will talk more about the match on Saturday morning, but for me it is more about the belief, the belief he can do it. Kyle showed that before – it’s about finding the balance between not being too excited, but still playing to win the match.”

Best of the rest

Elsewhere, world number one and French Open champion Simona Halep continues on her crusade to land successive Grand Slam titles with a last-32 match against Taiwan’s world number 48 Hsieh Su-Wei.

Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova, who produced a brilliant performance to see off British number one Johanna Konta, faces Belgian 15th seed Elise Mertens.

Exciting Japanese prospect Naomi Osaka faces former number one Angelique Kerber.

In the men’s competition, another exciting talent, Australian Alex de Minaur, will play two-time champion Rafael Nadal. The 19-year-old reached two consecutive ATP semi-finals this year – the youngest to do so since Nadal in 2005.

Australian 15th seed Nick Kyrgios faces Japan’s Kei Nishikori, fourth seed Alexander Zverev is up against Ernests Gulbis and fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro will take on Frenchman Benoit Paire.

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BBC Sport – Tennis

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