MELBOURNE, Australia — There’ll be a British man in the Australian Open semifinals for the seventh time in nine years. It’ll be Kyle Edmund this time, though, not Andy Murray.
Edmund upset No. 3-ranked Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday to reach a Grand Slam semifinal 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.
“I am loving it right now, just the way I’m playing,” Edmund said. “My first Grand Slam semifinal. First time I played on one of the biggest courts in the world. To beat a quality of player like Grigor. They’re great feelings. So, yeah, I just try to enjoy it as much as possible.”
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 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.
Dimitrov, who won the season-ending ATP Finals last November, was coming off back-to-back wins over No. 30 Andrey Rublev and Nick Kyrgios, who was the last Aussie still in contention in the tournament.
“There’s no point for me to say what I did wrong — it’s all about him right now,” Dimitrov said, referring to Edmund. “Everything went his way today. It’s hard to hide a disappointment. It hurts, and so it should.”
Murray reached five Australian Open finals, but has never won the title at Melbourne Park. He’s skipping the tournament this year after deciding to have surgery on his hip.
That leaves 23-year-old Edmund, who had a first-round upset over U.S. Open finalist Kevin Anderson, 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,” said the No. 49-ranked Edmund. “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’m trying to be in your footsteps this week.”
Coming off a successful title defense at the Hobart International, Mertens 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.
The 22-year-old Mertens was one of the biggest movers on the women’s tour in 2017, improving 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.
Organizers announced a $45,000 fine for No 32-seeded Mischa Zverev 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 from starting tournaments and retiring from first-round matches.
Zverev was trailing Chung 2-6, 1-4 when he retired. His fine nearly equals his first-round prize money of 60,000 Australian dollars ($47,900).