By Ros Satar, in Melbourne

  • Kyle Edmund battled past Nikoloz Basilashvili in searing temperatures to win 7-6(0) 3-6 4-6 6-0 7-5
  • He faces Andreas Seppi for a place in his first Grand Slam quarter-final
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – It really has been a coming of age for Kyle Edmund as he remains the last Brit standing in the singles draws, and bids for a place in a first Grand Slam quarter-final.

 

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Kyle Edmund def. Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6(0) 3-6 4-6 6-0 7-5

If the pressure of carrying a country’s hopes on his broad shoulders is weighing heaving on Kyle Edmund, it really has not shown. Where once we would be concerned about his stamina, and his ability to last five sets – never mind in searing temperatures – we need worry no more.

Nikoloz Basilashvili in the third round of the Australian Open 2018

Photo by MAST IRHAM/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock |
Nikoloz Basilashvili in the third round of the Australian Open 2018

Having dug deep to take the No. 11 seed Kevin Anderson to five sets to score a major scalp in the opening round, he dispatched with Denis Istomin in the second round with ease.

It looked like this would be more of the same with an easy cruise through a first set tie-break, and being up a break in the second set, but then things started to slip through his fingers as Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili got more of a foot hold in the match and his heavy swinging style started to find the mark more often than missing.

With the temperatures touching 40 degrees but with no heat rule enforced, it became a true battle of wills as Basilashvili started to push ahead, leaving Edmund in catch up mode in punishing conditions.

A twenty minute game in the fourth set where Edmund finally broke through on the eighth break point proved to be the most important key to the match. Taking that set to love, the level they played in the decider was still high, with both having break point chances, but ultimately with Edmund needing just one match point to break the Georgian for the match.

He told reporters after the match: “This one today was very tough. Probably hottest conditions I played in for that sort of period of time. I mean, I don’t know the temperatures, but obviously on paper they were saying it was pretty much 40 degrees today.

“I’m not really sure about the rules, but it’s a tough one. I mean, it’s a professional sport. It’s meant to hurt. It’s not meant to be easy at some point of it.”

 

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Edmund v Seppi | H2H: Edmund leads 1-0

Andreas Seppi in the third round of the Australian Open, 2018

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

Edmund was not the only one locked in a five set battle – his opponent Andreas Seppi came through a similar marathon against the big-serving Ivo Karlovic, albeit after the temperature had definitely cooled a little.

For Edmund, though, past records do not, and indeed should not matter.

“At the end of the day, it’s 0-0. 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. Makes no difference. As you have probably seen in this tournament, there are a lot of seeds that have gone out.

“It has to be a new challenge for me and get all that out of my head. It has to be ready for battle, really. That’s the way I look at it.”

This match will definitely bring a different style than his other matches. Seppi plays a patient and consistent counter-punching game, rather than having one big weapon to exploit – but it does mean he will be getting ball after ball back. The Italian is agile, and Edmund may well have to adapt a lot more and expect to be dragged around in lung-bursting rallies.

By his own admission through, his improvement, in terms of physcial stamina and mental fortitude since being part of the Davis Cup winning team in 2015 has been remarkable.

He said: “It’s really hard to know if it’s the best win or not. For sure, the physical test was a great, great win for me to come through like that in a Grand Slam. Best-of-five sets in that kind of heat, really good for my career and my confidence going forward, for sure.

“It obviously shows improvement. I obviously knew I improved. It was good to see results on the court. Yeah, it’s just experience, maturity coming through, stuff like that.

“You know, it’s sad [his loss to David Goffin in the Davis Cup final] it hurts. It’s good you’re able to turn that around, you know, like the situation in the Davis Cup, really good to, you know, being disappointing for myself and the team, but this is obviously not team competition. It’s good for myself personally that I’m winning five sets like that in tough conditions.”

It is unlikely to be as quick as the Istomin encounter and we can see Seppi taking a set at the very least.

Prediction: Edmund in four sets.

 

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