MADRID (AP) — Novak Djokovic added another early elimination to his disappointing season, losing to Kyle Edmund 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 on Wednesday in the second round of the Madrid Open.
It’s the sixth straight tournament in which Djokovic has failed to reach the quarterfinals. The 12-time Grand Slam champion has struggled this year after saying he returned to action too quickly following a lingering right elbow injury.
“There are obvious things that are not working well for me,” Djokovic said. “But I have to keep working on them and pray that … and hope that my game will get stronger.”
Djokovic lost in the third round in Monte Carlo and in the second round in both Miami and Indian Wells. The 12th-ranked Serb also failed to advance past the last 16 at the Australian Open.
“One or two points decide really these kind of matches,” Djokovic said. “Luck was on his side a little bit. But, also, he was courageous enough to attack the balls when it mattered and deserved to win.”
Djokovic played poorly in the first set but recovered to comfortably win the second. He had a chance to go up a break early in the third set but lost five straight points to allow Edmund to come back from 0-40. The unseeded British player then broke Djokovic’s serve to go up 5-3 and easily closed out the match on his serve.
“I just felt good today, felt I was hitting the ball well,” Edmund said. “I just knew that if I put myself in the match hopefully in the closing stages I would give myself a chance. That game in the third set was very key. When Novak gets a lead it’s very hard to break him down because he becomes a bit more aggressive.”
Edmund will next play eighth-seeded David Goffin, who defeated Robin Haase 7-5, 6-3.
Eighth-ranked Kevin Anderson defeated qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-2 to set up a third-round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.
Also, top-ranked Simona Halep beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-1, 6-4 to stay on track for a third straight title in Madrid, while Caroline Wozniacki’s bid to return to the top of the rankings ended with a 6-2, 6-2 loss to 20th-ranked Kiki Bertens.
“At this tournament it’s really nice that I know I can play my best tennis,” Halep said.
The second-ranked Wozniacki needed to win the title in Madrid to overcome Halep for the No. 1 spot.
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