Kyle Edmund won the inaugural Tie Break Tens at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday evening and took away more money than he had earned all year.
The 20-year-old Briton produced a sensational barrage of power-hitting to beat his compatriot Andy Murray 10-7 in a high-quality final.
John McEnroe, who had been part of the field, was impressed with what he saw from the 20-year-old.
‘’I liked what I saw, he’s made some great progress,” said McEnroe. “He’s a better athlete than I thought, his backhand was more solid. He’s got a huge forehand, he pops that serve and he rose to the occasion. He’s got huge upside.’
The anticipation ahead of Tie Break Tens had been building at Champions Tennis all week.The six-man field comprising Edmund, Murray, McEnroe, David Ferrer, Tim Henman and qualifier Xavier Malisse (who earlier beat Younes El Aynaoui to earn his place), had been split into two-round robin groups and competed in a series of fast-paced, first-to-ten point tie-breaks.
In Group 1, McEnroe, 56, thrilled an excited crowd inside the Royal Albert Hall by rolling back the years and volleying exquisitely. He stayed neck and neck with Henman before eventually being edged out, and then led Malisse 7-1 with some of his best tennis in years. Suddenly, the McEnroe juggernaut came juddering to a stop as he lost nine points in a row.
They were joined in the final four by Murray and Edmund. The British pair both overcame World No.7 Ferrer to progress from Group 2.
The semi-finals turned out to be one-sided affairs; Murray clinically beat Henman 10-1 before Edmund saw off the spirited challenge of Malisse.
In the final, Edmund defied the odds and managed to avenge his Group stage loss to Murray. Edmund used his sledgehammer forehand to devastating effect and not even Murray’s renowned defensive skills could prevent Edmund from dominating the baseline exchanges and coming through 10-7.
What Did The Players Think Of Tie Break Tens?
Murray: ‘‘I thought it was good, it was quick. It was nice to be on the court with Tim and John. John is a legend of the game and the format was good.”
McEnroe: ‘‘I liked it, I felt good. I played well but sort of choked a little bit at the end. Tim actually played some good ball to win a couple of big points. I got cocky I think when I was up 7-1 against Xavier, I thought it was over and started thinking about the semis – that’s a mistake that no athlete should make.”
What is the future for Tie Break Tens?