British number two Kyle Edmund was on the wrong end of a gruelling three-setter in the opening round of the Rogers Cup in Canada.
Edmund, the world number 43, led by a set and a break against the diminutive and gritty Spaniard David Ferrer, before eventually going down 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3 in 2 hours and 23 minutes.
In that time, the momentum swung back and forth several times, as the two contrasting styles provided a gripping contest.
Even so, Edmund will be frustrated that he wasn’t able to push-on after breaking serve to take a 2-1 lead in the second set.
Precision overcomes power
As anyone who has watched Edmund will know, the Brit’s forehand is a devastating weapon which can trouble the very best in the men’s game.
However, on this occasion, it was Ferrer’s precision and consistency which prevailed against the power of the Brit.
Ferrer will now face either American Jack Sock or Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the second round.
Despite being an established top 20 player for the past decade, Ferrer’s form has dipped by his high standards this calendar year.
The dogged Spaniard slipped out of the world’s top 30 for the first time since 2005 in March, and he hadn’t won a hard-court match since the Australian Open in January.
That should have given Edmund, a rising star at 22, real hope, especially after a run to the semi-finals at the ATP 250 event in Atlanta a fortnight ago.
First set goes the distance
The pair were evenly matched throughout the opening set and, after trading breaks in games three and four, Ferrer fought his way to 0-40 on the Brit’s serve at 4-4.
Edmund responded with a couple of timely first deliveries and after completing an unlikely escape, the Brit suddenly saw an opportunity to grab the set.
In the following game, it was Edmund who led 0-40 and had three set points, however he was unable to convert, misfiring on a couple of forehands from promising positions.
The subsequent tie break was equally unpredictable, with Edmund winning the first three points before Ferrer took the next three to draw level.
Eventually, the Brit claimed it 7-5 when Ferrer dragged an inside out forehand into the tram lines.
Edmund unable to capitalise
Edmund appeared to be on his way to victory after breaking the Ferrer serve in the third game of the second set.
However, the Spaniard then reeled off the next four games to lead 5-2.
That was partly down to Edmund’s diminishing first serve percentage, which dipped below the 50 per cent mark in the second set.
The first two games of the decider both went to deuce, however Ferrer won them both, converting his fifth break point in the second game.
Edmund fought back to 3-4, however he couldn’t maintain his level, with his game leaking too many errors.
When he served for the match, Ferrer held his nerve, finishing with an ace to come through a hard-fought encounter.