By Ros Satar, in Melbourne

  • Kyle Edmund def. Andreas Seppi 6-7(4) 7-5 6-2 6-3
  • Best Grand Slam performance to date
  • First Brit since Andy Murray to reach the quarter-finals at the Australian Open
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Kyle Edmund continues to push himself onwards as the Great British hope as he reached his first Slam quarter-final.

 

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Kyle Edmund def. Andreas Seppi 67(4) 75 62 63

Finally the question ‘what will we do when Andy Murray is not around anymore’ ha been ably answered. Kyle Edmund has come of age with a quiet sense of determination.

Never one for effusiveness on court, if anything he is the anti-Murray to the point where you want to see him pumped up and raging. But the quiet, self-contained but powerful British No. 2 continues his climb up the rankings and increase in confidence. Once upon a time a five setter would see him cramping up in agony, but so far Edmund has gone the distance twice, straight sets once and now something in between.

Photo by JOE CASTRO/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock |
Andreas Seppi in the third round of the Australian Open, 2018

Much as in his first match there was little to separate Edmund and Andreas Seppi – as the only two unseeded players in action on Day Seven. Edged in the tie-break thanks to two mini-breaks, Edmund did not allow his head to drop – he was broken early in the second and hit back straight away, breaking at the end of the set to level up.

He was completely in control at the start of the third set, jumping out to a 3-0 lead before allowing Seppi the briefest of respites.

There was a sense both were getting weary in the fourth, with three break point chances going begging for the Brit. It was always him putting pressure on, but even after Seppi was crucially foot-faulted, and recovered enough to save himself, Edmund put the hammer down and sprinted for the finish line.

“I thought he actually came out very well and timed the ball well, dictating probably more points than I was. Was probably doing a little bit more reactive stuff.

“It was really good to turn it around, basically. Just stuck in there. Scoreboard pressure. Break him at 6-5. After that really took control.”

Edmund’s understated style continues as he tries to keep his eyes on the prize and not get too carried away with the enormity of what he has done. He is the first man since Andy Murray to reach the quarter-finals here, since John Lloyd fell in the last eight in 1985.

“It’s great to be in the quarterfinals. It’s certainly my best result at a slam. You know, it’s not easy to win four matches at a Grand Slam. Shows I’m improving. Also hard work paying off. Just, working at everything, my game, on and off the court. It’s good when you get results and it comes together.

“Nothing really beats winning and results. If you improve but you carry on losing, it doesn’t help anything.”

He equalled his achievement of reaching the fourth round of the US Open, 2016. But does he believe he can go further – if not all the way?

“You have to believe it. I mean, that’s why I’m in the quarterfinals, because every time I step on the court and I’m playing, I believe I’m going to win. So it’s no different now. I take it one step at a time. Whoever I’m playing on Tuesday, you know, I have to believe I’m going to win and believe in my game and stuff. That’s the way I have approached it, one match at a time, and I continue to do that.”

Edmund v Grigor Dimitrov [3] | H2H: Dimitrov leads 2-0

Grigor Dimitrov in the first round of the Australian Open 2018

Grigor Dimitrov in the first round of the Australian Open 2018 (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

World No. 3 and the No. 3 seed Grigor Dimitrov‘s path so far has been a little rocky – unexpected given his high finish to the end of last year, winning the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals.

For a long time, Dimitrov has frustrated many a pundit – first there were the ‘Baby Fed’ years where it seemed to escape the logic of most people that if as a youngster you idolise a player, you are more likely to try and play like they do. Now hopefully we can ditch this ridiculous epitaph and look at his game on his own terms.

His fitness has improved, his passion and drive saw him recover from a slump in form but seeing him fit and healthy, and more importantly motivated puts him right at the top of the rankings, where many feel he has belonged for a while. He won his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati, but perhaps was very disappointing at the US Open.

He seems to be making amends for that – the key of course is to come through seven matches in two weeks. Let’s be honest he has been a little woeful at times as he has struggled to adapt his game plan, taken to five sets by qualifier Mackenzie McDonald, and four sets each by Andrey Rublev and Nick Kyrgios.

He withstood a barrage of hits from Kyrgios, not to mention the antics of the man himself and his team, and came up trumps with far more intelligent play that we saw in his earlier rounds. He was able to handle Edmund’s game handily in Brisbane – although it was not a bad match at all by Edmund, and of course that ankle-twist for the Brit showed a great side of sportsmanship to Dimitrov as he leapt over the net to come to Edmund’s aid.

That was at the beginning of the season though, and it feels a lot has happened since then for both players. Both have had battles to come through, and Edmund spoke a lot about the belief he has. Ironically Nick Kyrgios urged Dimitrov to ‘believe’ at the net after his defeat to the Bulgarian, saying in his press conference later that he felt that had not always been the case for Dimitrov.

The Bulgarian will know he has a great shot of defending last year’s semi-final points if he can get past the Brit. What has impressed this week though for Edmund is his mental strength as well as the improvements to the physical side.

His serve is powerful and consistent, and he will nee to be returning well if Edmund has a strong serving day. Overall though he probably has just a little more variety and maybe even agility that will be the edge in this quarter-final.

Prediction: Dimitrov in four sets.

 

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