Kyle Edmund to meet Marin Cilic in Australian Open semi-finals
BRITAIN'S Kyle Edmund will meet Marin Cilic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open after Rafael Nadal retired during the deciding set of the quarter-final clash with the Croat due to a hip problem.
The world number one looked to be on his way to yet another major semi-final when he moved two sets to one in front but he called for the trainer after going a break down in the fourth set.
Nadal took a medical time-out but was clearly hampered in his movement and, after limping around the court for two games at the start of the fifth set, he headed to the net to shake hands.
The 3-6 6-3 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 2-0 victory gave Cilic a first victory over Nadal since 2009 and sent him through to his first Australian Open semi-final since defeat by Andy Murray in 2010.
Cilic said of his win: "It is tough when a player is injured but I had to keep my intensity up and continue with my own game and not keep looking over the net.
"Before the last set I thought I had to lift up my game. I was playing well but I had to lift my game up and the winners came out of my racket."
On playing Edmund next, the Croatian added: "He had an amazing run in the tournament and again a great match today.
"He has been a revelation to make it to the semi-final. I have to keep on with my own game. Kyle is a big hitter, great serve, great forehand so I have to take things into my own hands."
Edmund made sure he soaked up the enormity of his achievements after stunning third seed Grigor Dimitrov to reach his first grand slam semi-final.
The 23-year-old continued his remarkable exploits at the Australian Open by defeating Dimitrov 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-4 to become just the sixth British man in the Open era to reach the last four in singles at a slam.
It was the first time Edmund has beaten a top-10 player, and he saved the landmark for the biggest stage of all.
He said: "I am loving it right now, just the way I'm playing. I'm 23 years old, my first grand slam semi-final. 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. I'm just trying to enjoy it as much as possible. I knew I was in a good place. There's no reason why my tennis wasn't good enough to win. It's obviously about going out there and doing it."
Edmund joked on court that he now knows what it feels to be Andy Murray after carrying British hopes through the tournament and all the attention that comes with that.
Murray has made five finals at Melbourne Park, and if Edmund wants to follow in his footsteps he will have to beat Croatia's Marin Cilic, who pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets before the world number one succumbed to a hip problem.
"You just dream of lots of things," said Edmund. "It's all a dream. Until it becomes a reality, then it really hits you.
"You dream of playing in grand slams, first of all. I've done that. Hitting with the top guys. I remember being a practice partner for Andy and Rafa and Roger, to warm then up. Then suddenly you're playing these guys. At first, it's a bit surreal. Then you take it in your stride. That competitive instinct comes in. You want to beat them.
"A dream was to play for my country. I've done that. But of course the big one is to be in grand slam finals. Obviously a dream is to win them."
Edmund had every reason to be confident having survived long battles and extreme heat to make it through to the last eight. He also knew he could match Dimitrov having twice come close to beating him, most recently earlier this month in Brisbane.
Edmund made the perfect start to his debut on Rod Laver Arena with a break of the Dimitrov serve and, although the Bulgarian broke back, a brutal swing of the Edmund forehand at 4-4 earned him the chance to serve for the set.
Last season Edmund had a bad habit of being broken at such moments but he has been superb on the big points this tournament and so it continued as he saved three break points.
He could not recover a poor start to the second but pounced again in the third, showing hitherto unseen abilities at the net and taking advantage of Dimitrov's serving woes.
By the fourth, the third seed looked decidedly ragged and a wild forehand gave Edmund the chance to serve for the match, which he gleefully accepted.
On his nerves, Edmund said: "We just talked about it with my coach. It's totally normal to feel nervous. As an emotion, as a human being, it's normal. I just accepted that and had things in place to basically deal with it.
"The match in Brisbane was tight. Not too much in it. Today was similar. Maybe just in the key moments I stepped up well and was brave, really went for my shots, and they came good. I believed that I could pull off some good stuff."
While there was joy for Edmund, for Dimitrov this was a huge chance missed, but he was full of praise for his opponent.
"I am disappointed," he said. "It hurts, and so it should. Kyle deserves all the respect. He deserved to win, simple as that. He's been working so hard the past months. I've seen that.
"I take full responsibility for my match today. There's no point for me to say what I did wrong because I can sit here and talk about it, but it's all about him right now. He's the winner."