ANDY MURRAY will learn the identity of his first opponent in Monaco today, 24 hours after watching two Davis Cup team-mates go head-to-head.
It is the first time since 2006 three British men have earned direct entry into the draw in Monte Carlo. In the match that piqued world No.1 Murray’s interest, Kyle Edmund came out on top against Dan Evans. His 7-5 6-1 win over his compatriot earns him a match against clay king Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard has won the title nine times and a 10th would make him the first man in the Open era to lift a 10th title in a single event.
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But world No.45 Edmund, who recovered from a slow start after falling to 4-1, 40-0 down, said he will not be intimidated, even if Nadal on clay represents the ultimate challenge.
“It’s extremely hard; it will be tough,” he said. “It will be a tough match. But the flipside is that he’s not played me.
“I just have to go out there and give my best. It’s a good opportunity for me. I’ve never played Rafa. Winning [Monte Carlo] nine times, he obviously loves playing here. I played Novak [Djokovic] three times, Andy twice, [Stan] Wawrinka, [Milos] Raonic. It will be just a great experience for me. I’ll see what I can do.”
As an aside, the victory moves Edmund back above Evans as British No.2 behind Murray.
Evans, who has never hidden his dislike for clay, said there was little good to have come from him playing on the surface.
“It’s just an exercise – a pointless one at that,” he said, stopping only to check his phone to see the time. “If you stop asking questions, yeah, I’ll be able to get the 5.40 [flight].”
As for Nadal, he is full of confidence after reaching three finals already this year, including the Australian Open and Miami Masters.
Twelve months ago, Nadal won the title here to kick-start his season and he is favourite to set yet another record with a 50th clay-court title which would set him up for a tilt at a 10th French Open starting next month.
“I am happy with the way I have played the first few months of the season,” the former world No.1 said. “Now it is time for a historic event for everybody – and for me even a little bit more. I am working to be ready.”