It was late in 2021, on a shopping trip to Waitrose, when Kyle Edmund’s injury problem really hit him.
Having been out of the circuit for more than a year after two left knee surgeries that have bothered him since 2019, he was approached in the aisle by a fellow customer.
‘This woman came up to me and asked if I was Kyle Edmund the tennis player, I said yes and she said she thought I had retired,’ he recalled.
Kyle Edmund is back to full-fitness and is hoping to be on top form in his return to the Australian Open
That reminds me of how long I’ve been out. He was polite and didn’t annoy me, but it showed the truth of it. I would say that was my low point at the time, sitting at home deep in thought and wondering what was going to happen.’
The 27-year-old British player can look back on that time in a more sanguine way now, because his mood is finally one of optimism after fearing that a very promising career was over.
Edmund spent most of December in Dubai, preparing for a new start in Australia. Although ranked a nominal 582, he will use long-term injury dispensations to enter the opening two ATP tournaments in Adelaide before playing in the Australian Open. His opening opponent is top young Italian Jannik Sinner.
When he arrived in Melbourne it had been five years since he reached the semi-finals at the first Grand Slam of the season.
Although it has been easily forgotten, his progress in the last four excited thoughts that Britain had unearthed a rare gem that could challenge for major trophies. He would reach a career high of 14 later that year after winning the European Open in Antwerp.
Edmund had been injured for so long that a buyer had to ask him if he had retired from tennis
‘I hope I can get that feeling back. Five years have passed quickly, although time has not always passed.’
It was only in February of this year that he began to feel that the intensive months of gym rehab work was beginning to bring about improvement. A third minor procedure in April finally set her up for a low-key singles return ahead of the US Open.
He managed to be reasonably competitive in defeating finalist Casper Ruud, but only after playing in the humble domestic UK Pro League in Nottingham last month was there any sense of excitement about his progress.
‘I played a few tournaments leading up to the Open but I realized there was other strengthening to be done around my knee. I didn’t play tennis for a month and it started to get strong in the middle of November.
‘I went to the finals of the Pro League in Nottingham. At first I planned to just play a few matches there, but as the week went on I just kept going and ended up playing five matches in a row and won it.
‘It’s a nice little reward for all the work and it’s quite big. The knee is definitely in a good place compared to the start of the year.’
‘Edmund said his ‘knee is definitely in a better place compared to the start of the year’
The whole painful experience made him look at life differently: ‘It gave me a new perspective, I wouldn’t say I’m ungrateful but when you take your career away from you you appreciate playing professionally that sport for a living.
‘I think maybe if I had known how long it was going to take I would have done more things outside of tennis, but when you’re in the middle of all the rehab you’re just trying to get better. I’m too obsessed with the need to do what needs to be done and I’m quite stubborn.
‘I got into photography a bit. I bought a camera, started taking some pictures and editing. I found that quite interesting and I think I will take more pictures on my travels from now on. I watched Liverpool and motor sport a lot on TV.
‘I’ve never thought about money, but you realize you’re self-employed and don’t bring anything. Fortunately, I had already made a chunk (really close to £5million in official prize money alone) so I had a cushion.
Edmund finds a new hobby while he is hurt. He bought a camera and started taking pictures
‘When I used to watch tennis played in front of big crowds, I used to think it was so far away, now it’s quite close. In tennis you’re not given anything and ultimately it’s about me bringing a level that’s good enough to beat the best players like I used to when I was in the top twenty.’
He talks about ‘not doing anything with my knee’ and knows it needs to be managed. ‘I have to be smart with how much load I put on it, and I doubt I’ll play 30 tournaments a season, but I’m happy with where it is now.’
Christmas was spent on the other side of the world in Adelaide with fellow British player Ryan Peniston and his coach Mark Taylor for company.
‘To be honest I’ve had to spend a lot of time sitting at home these past few years, so it’s not really much of a sacrifice.’
Edmund is ‘pleased’ with where he is on his knee but says he has to be smart about it