Kyle Edmund was beaten in just 2 hours 11 minutes
The French team’s top player took just 2 hours 11 minutes to roll Edmund over in the dust on a court that is already showing worrying signs of indifferent bounce with a whole weekend of tennis ahead of it.
It somewhat stymied Edmund’s more expansive shot-making and together with a number of over-rules going against the visiting player, the pressure of trying to overcome a player ranked 30 places higher than him in the world proved too much for him.
A series of tight line calls had the umpire scuttling up and down from her seat on a regular path to inspect the clay, at one point in the third game crucially turning an Edmund ace into a fault and leaving him to try to defend two break points.
Though the 22-year-old failed with the second, some determined hitting got him immediately back into the game with the break back.
Lucas Pouille didn't drop a set to give France the edge over Britain
The set continued in perfunctory fashion until a suddenly more reticent Edmund had to retrieve another three break points in the 11th game.
A careless forehand miss on the first allowed Pouille the chance to serve for the set, a Edmund backhand floating long on set point to give France first blood after 45 minutes.
Unfortunately for Edmund there was something of a carry over, and Pouille immediately broke in the second with a relentless forehand.
Too many of those bad bounces were stilting Edmund’s attempts to hit freely through the ball and some similarly inconsistent line calls were doing nothing for his mental fortitude.
Sun, July 10, 2016
The world famous Wimbledon Championships 2016
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Andy Murray kisses the championship trophy following his win over Milos Raonic of Canada in the men's singles final of the Wimbledon Championships
The more gritty and abrasive style of his opponent was better suited to etching out a win, sporadically plopping killer drop-shots into the clay to great effect.
Despite being armed with a tennis racket instead of a bucket and spade, Edmund dug in nevertheless and broke back in the eighth game of the second set.
Now it was Pouille’s time to show nerves, double-faulting at the start of the tie-break to give Edmund an advantage but roared on by the home crowd the 23-year-old recovered to take the tie-break into a tense extra time.
A thumping winning return and unreturnable serve were enough for the Frenchman to punch the air in delight as Edmund headed past the concerned frowns of his team-mates for a comfort break.
Pouille saved two break points in the fifth game of the set but Edmund double-faulted twice in the very next game on his way to a final catastrophic break, the Brit hitting the ball into the clay in disgust with himself.
French captain Yannick Noah led the celebrations after Pouille finally secured the match when Edmund hit one final tired forehand return wide.
Defeat, on the other hand, was a bitter blow for the British, who hope to take something into tomorrow’s doubles clash.
That would mean Dan Evans beating Jeremy Chardy later this evening in the Birmingham player’s first competitive game of tennis on clay for three years.