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Kyle Edmund aims for Marin Cilic scalp at Australia Open

The last time Marin Cilic played at the Australian Open he was beaten in the second round by a British player wearing shirts he had bought from a local supermarket.

That was Dan Evans, enfant terrible of the British game who is currently serving a ban after testing positive for cocaine.

Cilic’s GB opponent this time will be the altogether more sober figure of world No 49 Kyle Edmund, who will be attempting to join the list of most unlikely Grand Slam finalists this century when they meet in the last four on Thursday. 

Kyle Edmund has beaten Grigor Dimitrov to reach the Australian Open semi-finals

The British No 2 put on a stunning display in Melbourne to see off the Bulgarian

The British No 2 put on a stunning display in Melbourne to see off the Bulgarian

It caused an upset as the world No 3 crashed out of the first Grand Slam of the year

It caused an upset as the world No 3 crashed out of the first Grand Slam of the year

British No1 Andy Murray was bowled over by Edmund's stunning win, sending this tweet

British No1 Andy Murray was bowled over by Edmund’s stunning win, sending this tweet

Edmund earned the right by bravely knocking out world No 3 Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The modest 23-year-old Yorkshireman is the type you might like your daughter to bring home — if you can get past him looking like a mad axeman when it comes to wielding the racket on his fearsome forehand.

It is more than 13 years since Tim Henman became the last British man before Andy Murray to make a major semi-final, at the US Open.

Less parochially, Edmund will try to become the lowest ranked player to reach a Grand Slam final since Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, then at No 54, got that far 12 years ago at Melbourne Park.

The British No 2 will have to overcome sixth seeded Cilic, who got past an eventually hobbling Rafael Nadal when the Spaniard retired with a leg muscle injury, trailing 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2, 2-0.

Edmund is not the type to get carried away but by his standards he could hardly contain his delight after beating a world top five player for the first time in 12 attempts.

Edmund will face Marin Cilic of Croatia in the Australian Open semi-final later this week

Edmund will face Marin Cilic of Croatia in the Australian Open semi-final later this week

Cilic qualified for the semi-finals after opponent Rafa Nadal was forced to retire through injury

Cilic qualified for the semi-finals after opponent Rafa Nadal was forced to retire through injury

 Edmund's previous matches with Dimitrov had gone to deciding sets, but this did not require it

 Edmund’s previous matches with Dimitrov had gone to deciding sets, but this did not require it

Edmund tore into the Bulgarian with his forehand right from the off and immediately broke

Edmund tore into the Bulgarian with his forehand right from the off and immediately broke

‘I am loving it right now, just the way I’m playing. I’m 23, in my first Grand Slam semi-final,’ he said. ‘It was the first time I played on one of the biggest courts in the world and to beat a quality of player like Grigor, of course all these things I’m aware of. They’re great feelings.’

Looking ahead he added: ‘I’ll believe I can win that, like today and every other match. I’m in a good place. There’s no reason why I can’t go out there and put a good level on the court, enjoy the occasion again. The semis of a Grand Slam, I’ll just try to take it in my stride as best as I can.’

While Edmund will be a very different proposition from Evans for Cilic, the rangy Croat bears no resemblance to the player humbled 12 months ago.

Back then he was still drained by a late-season finish which saw him lose in the final of the Davis Cup, and described himself as feeling ‘empty’ that day.

Striking seven first serves in out of ten in the third, Edmund was rock solid and put pressure on 

Striking seven first serves in out of ten in the third, Edmund was rock solid and put pressure on 

The tide turned in Edmund's favour in the fourth with a poor service game from Dimitrov at 2-2

The tide turned in Edmund’s favour in the fourth with a poor service game from Dimitrov at 2-2

AUSTRALIAN OPEN PRIZE MONEY 

Winner – £2.32m

Runner-up – £1.16m

Semi-finalist – £509,000

Quarter-finalist – £255,000

Fourth round – £139,000

Third round – £82,000

Second round – £52,000

First round – £29,000 

It might be tempting to think that Nadal’s injury has offered some kind of free pass, but Wimbledon finalist Cilic — who Andy Murray beat in the same stage here in 2010 — has looked very sharp this fortnight.

He acknowledged that he would be favourite but said: ‘Kyle had an amazing run here. He has played great tennis. He’s very entertaining to watch. Big hitter, great serve, great forehand, plays great on the hard courts.

‘On paper it’s probably easier to play him than Rafa. But he deserves to be here. I cannot influence him much across the net, but I’m going to try to take care of my things on my part of the court.’

Edmund took advantage of an unexpectedly wayward performance from Dimitrov. The Bulgarian looked like he had an adverse reaction to his big win over Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round but the big difference was the way Edmund stepped it up when he needed to on the big points.

The truth is his four-set win was not a match for the ages, but a hard-earned victory. John McEnroe said of Edmund: ‘He looks much stronger than he has done before. He used to go away in these kind of matches so he deserves all the props he gets. 

Britain's Davis Cup captain Leon Smith celebrates after Edmund's win against Dimitrov

Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith celebrates after Edmund’s win against Dimitrov

The Brit held his nerve best and played out the rest of the match superbly to win in four sets

The Brit held his nerve best and played out the rest of the match superbly to win in four sets

‘You’ve got to give him credit for hanging in there and handling the pressure better. I have been impressed by him and he has certainly got weapons.’

Nadal will go for an MRI scan, having felt something pull badly during his fourth set. After the O2 Arena in November, this is the second straight tournament that he has been unable to complete.

There was another big upset in the women’s draw, as world No 36 Elise Mertens thrashed tournament favourite Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-0. The 22-year-old Belgian is a serious prospect, and she will face Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-finals, after the Dane beat Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-0, 6-7, 6-2.

 



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