Melbourne | Dimitrov progresses to take on Edmund
With Kyle Edmund through to a grand slam quarter-final for the first time in his career, British attention focused primarily on the match from which his next opponent would emerge.
The British No2 will take heart that Grigor Dimitrov was kept on court by Nick Kyrgios for three hours and 26-minutes before he finally emerged the 7-6(3) 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(4) victor.
Playing against Nick is always tricky, Two weeks ago I lost against him ... he was serving unbelievable, playing unbelievable and competing Grigor Dimitrov
The Bulgarian, seeded 3, resisted a spirited fight back by the Australian whose defeat meant the end of the local’s titles hopes.
He came close to sealing the victory when he broke Kyrgios to go 5-4 up in the fourth set but was forced into a tie-breaker by some excellent play from his adversary.
In the breaker he eventually closed it out on his second matchpoint.
But as the scoreline suggests, he didn’t have it all his own way but it proved to be the more focused and polished performance of his week. Even Kyrgios managed to raise his own performance to make the match a very close affair despite his three-sets to one loss.
The volative 22-year-old Australian was clearly irritated by some racket stringing problem and made his frustrations clear to his box but despite that, he kept control of his emotions.
Despite smashing13 aces and rarely threatened when serving, Kyrgios lost the opening set he largely dominated by delivering his first double-fault of the match in the decisive tiebreaker.
In the second Dimitrov managed to break through on the seemingly impregnable serve to go ahead 4-3 only to then find himself frustrated in the fifth game of the third when Kyrgios stormed back.
The fourth proved the decider and it was Dimitrov, after exchanging breaks at the end of the set, who then won a thrilling tie-breaker and the match to go forward where Edmund awaits in the last eight.
“Playing against Nick is always tricky,” Dimitrov revealed. “Two weeks ago I lost against him … he was serving unbelievable, playing unbelievable and competing.
“He deserves a lot of credit … he fought really hard.
“Even when I was serving for the match I just felt it was still not over. I was still not finding my spots well and again he was playing very well.
“But I’m glad to go through the match (and win it).”
Meanwhile one of the title favourites who was cruising through the field, found himself embroiled in three-hour 51-minute battle before reaching the next round as expected.
Rafa Nadal, the world No1 was forced to regroup when he lost his first set of the championships to the diminutive, albeit very dogged, Diego Schwartzman.
He eventually got past the Argentine obstacle 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals where he will take on the former US Open champion, Marin Cilic after the big-serving Croat recorded a similarly tough 6-7(2) 6-3 7-6(0) 7-6(3) win over 10th seed Pablo Carrena Busta.
“A great battle,” Nadal said after finally seeing off Schwartzman on Rod Laver Arena.
“He’s a great player in all aspects and I feel that for a lot of moments he was serving well this afternoon.
“That is something he is normally so comfortable with.”