Britain’s Kyle Edmund has warned world No.1 Novak Djokovic he has nothing to lose when they meet in the US Open last 16.
Edmund continued his breakthrough run at Flushing Meadows on Friday by beating American 20th seed John Isner, having already knocked out world No.15 Richard Gasquet in round one.
It means the 21-year-old has reached the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time and his reward is a showdown with Djokovic, the 12-time major champion and top seed in New York.
“I definitely don’t have anything to lose in this one,” Edmund said. “That’s how I approached it against Isner. I had nothing to lose really. But at the same time I know I’m in a good place.
“These are the situations you want to be in, what you dream about, reaching the fourth round of a slam and now getting the opportunity to play the world No.1.”
Edmund is ranked 84th in the world, but already he will be closing in on the top 50 by the time this tournament has ended.
The youngster from Yorkshire may also glean experience from his previous meeting with Djokovic, when he lost 6-3, 6-3 in Miami in March.
“I feel I had some good success in that match,” Edmund said. “In the middle of the match I started taking it to him a bit more. That’s my game. That’s what I’ve been doing this tournament.
“I need to continue to do that. My game is trying to be aggressive. It’s going to be no different when I play him on Sunday. That’s what’s been working, so there’s no point in changing it.”
Djokovic has had to play only six games for his last two victories here, after both Jiri Vesely and then Mikhail Youzhny retired injured.
The extra rest may have been timely, given Djokovic has been struggling with wrist and elbow problems, but there is also the chance that five days without a match will upset the 29-year-old’s rhythm.
“You’ll have to ask him that, if he feels rusty. For me, if he’s played matches or not, he’s going to be tough to play, isn’t he?” Edmund said.
“He hasn’t played two full matches now, so he may be a bit fresher.”
Djokovic admitted the extra recovery could be beneficial for his physical problems.
“Considering the stage of the season and the amount of matches I’ve played, what I’ve been through with my body, I think it’s actually good to have some days off and then shorter matches,” he said.
The top seed arrived with a niggling left wrist injury that had hampered him at the Olympics and then, in his first-round win over Jerzy Janowicz on Monday, he took treatment on a sore right arm.
“The arm is doing very well,” Djokovic said. “Everything is going in the right direction. I feel significantly better now than I have just at the beginning of the tournament.”
Meanwhile, Juan Martin del Potro’s comeback keeps rolling along. The 2009 champion who returned to grand slam competition this year after missing two and a half years of major tournaments because of operations on his left wrist, had little trouble beating 11th-seeded David Ferrer 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-3 to move into the fourth round.
Del Potro was the clear favourite of the Louis Armstrong Stadium fans, who cheered wildly with every winner, and he responded with confident fist pumps. Del Potro next faces Dominic Thiem.