Kyle Edmund has battled his way into the fourth round of the Australian Open and in so doing, celebrated by flexing his right bicep much like Andy Murray did ten years ago when he made the last 16 at Wimbledon.
For the second time this week, he recovered from going two sets to one down and after three and a half hours in scorching heat, he triumphed 7-6(0) 3-6 4-6 6-0 7-5 over the Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Best-of-five sets in that kind of heat, really good for my career and my confidence going forward, for sure. Physically and mentally that type of match takes a lot out of you. Just to keep fighting and chipping away. The heat zaps the energy out of you Kyle Edmund
Previously known for being unable to close out close matches he has now disproved many of his critics with this week’s run which will inevitable lift him up the world rankings.
The world No 61, Basilashvili, is an attacking player who loves to go for his points but on this occasion, it was the Briton who stayed strong and showed plenty of patience to outplay his opponent by making the most of the opportunities which cae his way and his opponent’s weaker serve.
Basilashvili hit 17 double faults (15 more than Edmund) and just 12 aces (to Edmund’s 20). With both players hitting aggressively from the baseline there were plenty of unforced errors (64 by Edmund and 68 by Basilashvili), while the Briton hit 70 winners to his opponent’s 38.
The heat also played its part and both players made full use of the iced towels which were available and took on board plenty of fluids.
It didn’t look too good for Edmund at the start, dropping his serve and then at 2-1, taking a medical time out for treatment to his back However, on resumption, he broke back and held on for the tie break where he dominated proceedings.
Edmund then led 2-0 in the second set but Basilashvili, who had lost in four sets in his only previous meeting with the Briton two years ago at the French Open, fought back, breaking serve twice to lead 5-3. Despite wasting his first two set points with double faults, the Georgian levelled the match after Edmund made three successive forehand errors.
And Basilashvili kept the pressure on in the third romping into a 3-1 lead and while Edmund recovered the break, he immediately lost his own serve for a second time in the set to give his opponent the opportunity to serve out, which he duly did.
The Georgian’s momentum was halted in the fourth when he was broken for 2-0. However hard he tried, he could not hold Edmund back though it took the Briton 20-minutes to claim the game after 20-minutes, 15 deuces and eight breakpoints. It certainly opened the door for Edmund who followed that up by sweeping through the set without dropping a game with Basilashvili double-faulting on the third set point.
In the decider it was nip-and-tuck and when Basilashvili served his 17th double fault at 5-6 he handed Edmund a match point and then the match by netting a backhand.
“It’s really hard to put if it’s the best win or not. For sure, the physical test was a great win for me,” Edmund commented later.
“Best-of-five sets in that kind of heat, really good for my career and my confidence going forward, for sure.
“Physically and mentally that type of match takes a lot out of you. Just to keep fighting and chipping away. The heat zaps the energy out of you.”
Referring to the long game in the fourth set, he added: “Yeah, probably the longest game in my career. I mean, sets get played as quick as that. That game actually worked out to be a very key game, because that game was a set from him.”
Edmund, who upset 11th seed Kevin Anderson in the opening round and followed it up with a win over Denis Istomin, will now face Italian Andreas Seppi in Sunday’s fourth round.
“It’s a fresh match. Doesn’t really matter about head-to-heads or what their number is in the bracket next to their name,” Edmund said looking ahead. “There are a lot of seeds that have gone out. I have to be ready for battle. That’s the way I look at it.”
Edmund, the only British man in the main draw after Andy Murray’s injury withdrawal, has now matched his previous best performance at grand slam level when her reached the fourth round at the 2016 US Open, losing to Novak Djokovic.