Tennis Expert & Columnist
Winning the doubles title in Estoril was a 'masterstroke' for Kyle Edmund, according to Barry Cowan
"There is no substitute for winning matches, but mentally for Kyle to get over that line and beat Djokovic is huge for him"
Last Updated: 09/05/18 9:18pm
"The masterstroke of playing doubles in Estoril and winning a title just helps that momentum going forward" - Barry Cowan believes confidence was key in helping Kyle Edmund upset Novak Djokovic.
British pair Edmund and Cameron Norrie clinched their maiden doubles title on the ATP Tour after defeating Wesley Koolhof and Artem Sitak in the Estoril Open final last week.
Edmund and Norrie, the British No 1 and three respectively, had not dropped a set en route to the showpiece on the Portuguese clay.
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Kyle Edmund defeats Novak Djokovic to reach Madrid Open third round
And Cowan felt the experience of clinching a trophy inspired the 23-year-old into recording one of the biggest triumphs of his career by upsetting former world No 1 Djokovic 6-3 2-6 6-3 in a high-quality contest at the Madrid Open on Wednesday.
"To step up and play really well under pressure just shows how far he has come, but for me the masterstroke of playing doubles in Estoril and winning a title last week just helps that momentum going forward," said the Sky Sports tennis expert.
"There is no substitute for winning matches, but mentally for Kyle to get over that line and beat Djokovic is huge for him. He has pushed some of the top guys close in the past, like Rafael Nadal in Monte Carlo last year for example. He's one of the few players who has taken a set off the great man.
"He's a very good clay court player and there's an argument to suggest it is his best surface. There's a difference feeling you're not too far away when you're in the heat of the battle, but to actually beat them, I think it's mentally huge for Kyle.
"The next couple of weeks are crucial for Kyle ahead of the French Open. You need to have form going into Roland Garros and actually he hasn't won that many matches after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals, so he needs to have a good week here in Madrid and next week in Rome."
Djokovic, a two-time champion in the Spanish capital, has not won a deciding set this year and, having previously suffered final-set losses to Martin Klizan, Dominic Thiem and Taro Daniel, the 30-year-old Serb's disappointing run continued despite winning his opening match in Madrid against Kei Nishikori.
Cowan says the "aura is not what it once was" from the 12-time Grand Slam champion, but believes it's a matter of time before it returns in what he describes as "his biggest challenge" as he continues to search for consistency following a persistent right elbow problem.
I still believe Djokovic will get it back and I still believe he has got some great tennis ahead of him, but at the moment it's a test for him. It's his biggest challenge, although it's a stuttering start.
Barry Cowan on Kyle Edmund
"From what I've seen from Novak, it's one step forward and one step back. I thought he played very well against Nishikori, but I think it's a little easier to play the likes of Nishikori because you're playing against a former top 10 player so naturally it's a little easier to get up for that," said Cowan.
"I thought the next test would be someone like Kyle with Kyle throwing everything at it, so the question would be how would he play against that? He's playing well. There's no problem with Djokovic with the way he's playing, but mentally he's not believing how he used to do. Crucially, the other players are playing him thinking 'he doesn't believe'.
"Normally you see guys serving for the match against Djokovic and you think, 'Well, maybe it's only 50-50'. But Kyle got up there and delivered big serves and big forehands. At no stage did he doubt himself, so the aura is not what it once was.
"I still believe Djokovic will get it back and I still believe he has got some great tennis ahead of him, but at the moment it's a test for him. It's his biggest challenge, although it's a stuttering start. It's all about the pressure and being able to do it day after day which he's not conditioned to do because of the time off and things that have happened - his ego has been knocked."
The Masters 1000 Series continues throughout this week with our coverage of the ATP Madrid Open on Sky Sports Arena. Check listings for starting times.
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