Melbourne | Edmund downs Dimitrov

What a start to the second week of this year’s Australian Open! Yesterday we saw the dismissal of Novak Djokovic, despite a tender elbow and Dominic Thiem, both highly rated to reach at least the semi-finals.

Today Grigor Dimitrov, the world No3 from Bulgaria, joins the queue for the airport following his loss to Kyle Edmund, the British No.2 ranked 49 in world terms, who has matured immensely at this grand slam, taking over the responsibility of flying the Union Jack in the absence of Andy Murray recovering in London following surgery to his troublesome hip.

Kyle deserves all the respect. He deserved to win, simple as that. He’s been working so hard the past months. I’ve seen that. Played him a couple of times. I take full responsibility of my match today. There’s no point for me to say what I did wrong because I can sit here and talk about it, but it’s all about him right now. He’s the winner Grigor Dimitrov

No one could have predicted that Edmund would power his way into the semi-finals of Melbourne, but he has and Dimitrov, following his loss, confirmed that he could go even further.

“Kyle deserves all the respect. He deserved to win, simple as that. He’s been working so hard the past months. I’ve seen that. Played him a couple of times. I take full responsibility of my match today. There’s no point for me to say what I did wrong because I can sit here and talk about it, but it’s all about him right now. He’s the winner.

“I mean, for sure he won a lot of tough matches. He doesn’t fancy the heat too much. Obviously, I saw it again today. But he really pushed through it in a way that he went for his shots and believed in himself, counted when he really had to step up the game or do something else. I think once you reach that stage of a Grand Slam, anything can happen really. It’s really how much you want it.

“These kind of opportunities don’t always come on the door. So, once you have them, try to make the most out of them. That’s the best thing. Two in the quarter, and one comes out a winner.”

And it was Edmund who emerged the winner on this occasion, battling through two-ours and 49-minutes to record a very satisfying 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory to reach the semi-finals, his first at grand slam level in what was his debut at the quarter-final stage of a major. He has never won five consecutive matches at tour level, had lost to Dimitrov in their previous two encounters, and never beaten a top five player before!

He has shown strength, maturity and a doggedness to come through his five matches all of which bar one, have been played over at least four sets.

Can he go any further? He believes he can having gained in confidence and he is two matches away from achieving what even Murray has been unable to do, win the Australian Open despite making the final five times. For the record, the last Briton to win the Australian title was Fred Perry 84 years ago!

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Edmund said courtside following his upset. “I’m very happy. With these sort of things you’re so emotionally engaged that you don’t really take it in, you don’t enjoy yourself, so just at the end, after a hard match and having played lots of matches so far, I just really tried to enjoy the moment. This was my first match on this court [the Rod Laver Arena] and it was very special.”

Asked what the keys had been to his victory over Dimitrov, Edmund said: “He’s played hard matches. He won a five-set match and then a high-level match against Nick Kyrgios, so I knew it was going to be tough. I had a bit of a dip in the second set. I think it was quite poor tennis at some point. But in the third set I managed to break him right at the end. I had a little blip in the fourth set but held my nerve in that last game and just prayed that last ball was out.”


Grigor Dimitrov (L) congratulates Kyle Edmund n his memorable win.

“I just held my nerve in that last game and prayed that last ball would be out,” Edmund said. It was and the Briton was through.

“When you’re on these types of stages, reaching the last stages of the best tournaments in the world, it’s very pleasing. But of course I want to keep going,” Edmund added.

His next opponent will be either Rafa Nadal, the former champion and last year’s beaten finalist, or Marin Cilic, the former US Open champion. Both of them will be big hurdles for Edmund to clear but in view of his recent wins, he could do some damage – Nadal has already commented positively on Edmund’s game which has blossomed under the guidance of his new coach, the Swede Fredrik Rossengren.

Edmund did not lose a point on his serve for a quarter of an hour as he strode into 3-1 lead in the opening set.

There were some signs of nerves when he double faulted and delivered two forehand errors which cost him his serve and brought the Bulgarian back into the set, but he managed to control them and regain the initiative and then saved three break points as he served out for the opening set on the 42-minute mark.

Dimitrov struck back in the second set streaking into a 3-0 lead but failed to gain a double break as Edmund held on but after 85-minutes, the match stood at a set apiece.

Dimitrov, who had beaten Edmund in straight sets in Brisbane a few weeks earlier, now looked set to go on and score another win over the 23-year-old Yorkshireman.

But despite some nervous moments in the early part of the third, Edmund’s powerful game started to make its impact.

A double fault by Dimitrov in the seventh game provided Edmund with the break he was looking for and wrapped up the set to take the lead and bring him within sight of a causing a major upset.

The fourth would examine their fitness as both players had experienced lengthy matches in their respective runs to the last eight. Edmund gained the initiative in the eighth game only to hand it back in the next with a wild forehand. The points became shorter as nerves started to appear once again, on both sides of the net but it all ended when Edmund struck his 13th ace on match point and Hawkeye eventually confirmed it.





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