2018 French Open: Fognini ends Edmund's run after five-set battle in Paris

Edmund was Britain's last singles representative at Roland Garros. Fognini will now face either Marin Cilic or Steve Johnson in the fourth round.

2018 French Open: Fognini ends Edmund's run after five-set battle in Paris
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Kyle Edmund lost a five-set battle in the third round of the French Open for the second year running after going down 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 to Italy's Fabio Fognini.

Edmund, who a year ago lost to Kevin Anderson at the same stage in Paris, had chances in the deciding set before crucially losing his serve at 4-5 in the fifth on the Suzanne-Lenglen Court.

This was another good showing from the British number one against a player renowned for his undoubted talent and clay-court prowess, however, it won't detract from the disappointment of defeat in a match which lasted 3 hours and 34 minutes.

Victory would have meant a fourth-round encounter against either Croatia's Marin Cilic or American Steve Johnson.

Instead, the Brit will now look ahead to his grass-count season, which begins on June 18 at the Fever-Trees Championships in London. 

This was the third major in succession where Edmund had been the last Brit standing in singles events.

The 23-year-old from Yorkshire wasn't fazed by the pressure at the Australian Open earlier in the year and produced a couple of assured performances to come through the opening rounds at Roland Garros.

Even so, Fognini, the 18th seed and a clay-court specialist, represented a step up in quality from the vanquished Alex de Minaur and Marton Fucsovics.

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Fognini diffuses Edmund threat

Edmund had never previously met the flamboyant and unpredictable Italian, 31, who British fans may remember for his stunning clay-court victory over Andy Murray in Davis Cup in 2014.

Despite losing his serve in the opening game of the match, Fognini displayed a similar performance in the first set here, winning five games in a row from a 1-3 deficit.

The Italian has exceptional technique from the back of the court and the ability to strike the ball early, especially off the backhand wing.

It was a shot he used to great effect in the opening set, regularly guiding the ball down the line to keep Edmund’s potent forehand at bay.

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Edmund powers ahead

Yet, Fognini has only made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam on one occasion, at the French Open in 2011, and his concentration has a tendency waver during matches.

In the second set, Edmund won 15 straight points to take a 5-1 lead as his opponent’s game went AWOL for a curious 10-minute spell.

But, with little to lose, Fognini broke Edmund twice to claw the score back to 5-4, before losing serve in the next game to ultimately concede the set.

Both players held serve comfortably at the start of the third until Edmund made his move when leading 4-3.

After prevailing in a couple of baseline duels on the Italian’s serve, Edmund was handed a crucial break after his opponent double-faulted at 30-40.

The Brit didn't blink as he served out the set for a two sets to one lead.

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Chances come and go

Momentum swung again at the start of the fourth, as Fognini came within inches of a 4-0 lead when he nudged a drop shot into the tramlines.

Instead, Edmund held for 3-1, before breaking his opponent in the following game after a couple of pulsating groundstrokes.

But, after fighting hard to get back on level terms, Edmund lost his serve at 4-5 when he dumped a drop shot into the net.

The Brit had opportunities at the start of the decider but couldn't convert either of his two break points at 2-2.

His first blip on serve in the decider was a fatal one, as Fognini broke at 4-5 to close out the match.