Tennis

Tim Henman backs Kyle Edmund for top 50

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Tim Henman is backing Kyle Edmund to crack the world's top 50 after the British youngster more than doubled his annual earnings with an exhibition victory over Andy Murray.

Edmund had previously won 205,654 dollars (?136,000) in the whole of 2015 but pocketed 250,000 dollars (?165,000) in three hours with his dramatic win at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday night.

The 20-year-old beat Murray 10-7 in a thrilling final at the Tie Break Tens - an exhibition tournament where matches are decided by first to 10 points.

Edmund had earlier lost to Murray in the groups of the competition, which also featured Henman, David Ferrer, John McEnroe and Xavier Malisse.

The success came a week after Edmund took part in Britain's Davis Cup victory over Belgium and caps an encouraging year that has seen him rise to 102 in the world and reach the French Open second round.

"To see Kyle come out and play like that in the final was really, really impressive," said Henman, who lost 1-6, 7-6, 10-6 to Fernando Gonzalez, who retained his Champions Tennis Title.

"He's done fantastically well this year to get into the top 100 for the first time, and he's only just outside now. He's had a really sustained period of good tennis and hard work.

"This is just scratching the surface for him. Top 100 is always a big psychological barrier. Now he can push on. He just needs to keep giving himself opportunities in the tournaments.

"If he can get his ranking a little bit higher he'll get into the main tour events more regularly, there'll be more points on offer.

"I don't think it will be long before he's knocking on the door of the top 50."

Henman reached a career-high of four in the world and made six grand slam semi-finals but Edmund is ahead of the former British number one in terms of ranking and age.

Edmund broke into the top 100 in the world aged 20, while at the same age Henman had just reached 150.

"I liked what I saw, he's made some great progress," McEnroe said.

"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."

McEnroe had earlier suggested Edmund is amongst a select group of youngsters capable of breaking into the big four of the men's game.

"There seems to be this gap where the opening would appear to be for even younger players," McEnroe said.

"Someone's going to pop out. One of these Kyle Edmunds of the world is going to come out, and suddenly you're going to see this guy at four in the world in a year. That's my prediction."

Murray, who flies out to Dubai on Thursday for his off-season training, has been a strong influence on Edmund this year, cheering him on at Roland Garros and forming a close relationship during the Davis Cup.

The world number two was complimentary about his opponent's tie-break triumph but insists there is still hard work ahead.

"He's playing really well just now," Murray said.

"He's made some big improvements this year but there's a lot of hard work that needs to be done if he wants to keep getting better.

"To go from 200 to 100 is tough, to get from 100 to 50 is harder, even from 50 to 40 - it starts to get much, much harder as you move up the rankings, but provided he keeps working hard and pushing himself, there's no reason why he can't get up there."

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