In Sunday’s Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells men’s final, World No. 27 Kyle Edmund faced off against 21-year-old rising contender Andrey Rublev. The matchup was highly anticipated by the crowd at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, as Edmund and Rublev spent the prior week outclassing each of their opponents during their journey to the final. It was abundantly clear that the two best men’s players had emerged from the draw, with a chance to claim the title of Indian Wells champion on the line on Sunday.
While the rising Russian Andrey Rublev fought tooth and nail to try and frustrate Edmund, he was unable to stop any of the Brit’s momentum. In a swift 2-set final, Edmund leaned on his vast tournament experience to overwhelm Rublev on his way to a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
For Edmund, the top ranked British player in the world, this week has been a welcome return to elite form in 2019. He spent the last five weeks recovering from a knee injury that has hampered him since the Australian Open in January and was looking to kickstart his return to action with a dominant run at the Oracle Challenger Series. He undeniably accomplished his goal, looking every bit like the No. 27 player on tour throughout the week in Indian Wells. From early on, it was clear that Edmund was enjoying his time in the desert. “This is the best Challenger on tour for sure” he claimed, amidst his dismissal of Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo in the first round, followed by Lukás Rosol, Yannick Maden and Lloyd Harris. While some players might get caught up in the moment of getting within one win of a title, Edmund is certainly not one of them. A former Australian Open semifinalist, he is comfortable on the biggest stage and showcased his experience during the matchup against the much younger Rublev.
Although Rublev was unable to complete his mission of capturing the trophy, he can take solace in the fact that he still had one of the most impressive weeks of any player at the Oracle Challenger Series. Before Sunday’s final, he had yet to drop a set during dominant victories over John-Patrick Smith, Peter Polansky, Alex Bolt and Dan Evans. Rublev has a history of surprising upsets against higher seeded competition and was hoping to add Kyle Edmund to that list. Unfortunately, he couldn’t capture the same magic that he used to blow past his other opponents throughout the tournament.
Edmund, a first time Oracle Challenger Series participant, simply had all the answers for Rublev throughout the match. Operating behind the strength of his serve, including nine aces and an astonishing (26/29) 90% success rate on first serve points, he overwhelmed the young Russian. While he certainly made it look easy, in reality it took Edmund’s best effort to make his way through the draw. “The field has been very strong, and I knew how dangerous Andrey could be today.” He finished Rublev in just under an hour of match time and captured his second career ATP Tour title.
Edmund will look to follow up his Oracle Challenger Series title with a run at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open, which kicks off next week in the desert.