Edmund upsets No. 3 Dimitrov, new Brit in Aussie Open semis
MELBOURNE, Australia — There’ll be a British man in the Australian Open semifinals for the seventh time in nine years. This time it’ll be Kyle Edmund, not Andy Murray.
Edmund upset No. 3-ranked Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday to reach the semifinals for the first time. Edmund had never played in a major quarterfinal, had never won five consecutive matches at tour level, had lost both of his previous matches against Dimitrov and had never beaten a top five player.
He checked all those boxes on Rod Laver Arena, setting himself up for a match against either top-ranked Rafael Nadal or No. 6 Marin Cilic for a spot in the final of the season’s first Grand Slam.
After breaking Dimitrov’s serve in the ninth game of the fourth set, Edmund set up match point with an ace. Then he had to wait before a video challenge confirmed that Dimitrov’s last shot — a floating backhand — was out.
“I just held my nerve in that last game and prayed that last ball would be out,” Edmund said. It was out, and so was Dimitrov, who lost a thrilling five-set semifinal here last year to Nadal and had only just beaten Edmund two weeks ago at the Brisbane International.
“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 said.
Murray reached five Australian Open finals, but has never won the title at Melbourne Park. He’s missing the season-opening major this year after deciding to have surgery on his hip. That leaves Edmund as the center of attention for the tennis-loving British public.
“I know what it feels like to be Andy Murray the last eight years,” he said. “It’s probably the first time I’ve done well on my own, so there’s more attention there. Of course you take it in stride.”
Elise Mertens is the center of attention in Belgium after reaching the semifinals in her debut at the Australian Open.
Mertens upset fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-0 to extend her winning streak to 10 matches, and became the first Belgian since Kim Clijsters in 2012 to reach the semifinals here.
“If you believe in yourself, then anything can happen,” she said. “But of course semis is, ‘Wow.'”
Mertens, who trains at Clijsters’ academy, added: “Kim, thanks for watching, I knew you sent me a message before the match — don’t be too stressy.”
“I’m trying to be in your footsteps this week.”
Mertens, who was coming off a successful title defense at the Hobart International, dominated against Svitolina, who had also been on a nine-match winning roll after winning the Brisbane International.
Svitolina had won their only previous tour-level match, but had no answers on Rod Laver Arena and later said hip trouble had been bothering her all year.
“She played great from the beginning of the year,” Svitolina said. “But, you know, when I give her opportunities to play and to play a good level, then of course she’s going to play. She’s going to go for shots.
“Now she’s in semifinal. Now she’s not just a player that’s up and down. She’s quite consistent, and we can see this.”
The 22-year-old Mertens was one of the biggest movers on the women’s tour in 2017 as she improved her year-end ranking from 120 to 35 and won her first career title.
In the semis, she’ll play either second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki or Carla Suarez Navarro.
In other news, No 32-seeded Mischa Zverev was fined $45,000 for a poor performance in his first-round match against Hyeon Chung.
Zverev was punished under a new rule implemented by the Grand Slam Board in the off-season intended to deter players with pre-existing injuries to start a tournament and retired from their first-round matches.
Zverev was trailing Chung 2-6, 1-4 on the first day when he retired. His fine of $45,000 nearly equals his first-round prize money of 60,000 Australian dollars ($47,900).
Zverev’s fine was the largest ever assessed to a player for an on-site Grand Slam offense, although other players have been fined larger amounts following a major tournament.