Kyle Edmund’s march towards the Australian Open semi-finals this fortnight has been nothing short of remarkable.
The world No. 49 was 0-14 against top-10 opposition prior to these two weeks and had made it past the second round at a Grand Slam just three times before in 13 main draw appearances at the majors.
Now, the 23-year-old South African-born Brit has claimed the biggest win of his career — a four-set success over world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov, to storm into the last-four at Melbourne Park.
He next faces either Rafael Nadal or Marin Cilic for a dream place in the final.
Edmund’s run to the semi-finals in Melbourne looked like this:
R1 beat Kevin Anderson  6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
R2 beat world No60 Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-2, 6-4
R3 beat world No61 Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6, 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5
R4 beat world No76 Andreas Seppi 6-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-3
QF beat Grigor Dimitrov  6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Here’s a close analysis of the numbers behind Edmund’s historic fortnight Down under…
1 – Edmund is the first British man, other than Andy Murray, to reach the Australian Open semi-finals since John Lloyd in December 1977.
1 – Edmund’s win over third-ranked Dimitrov was his first against a top-five opponent in 12 attempts.
2 – five-set wins for Edmund this fortnight, the first time he’s done so at the same tournament.
5 – second serve aces struck by Edmund so far this tournament.
5 – Edmund has posted five consecutive tour-level match wins for the first time in his career.
6 – Edmund is the sixth British male Grand Slam semi-finalist in the Open Era, joining countrymen Roger Taylor, John Lloyd, Greg Rusedski, Tim Henman and Andy Murray.
14 – hours and 48 minutes, total time spent on court through five matches.
22 – break points saved, out of 33 faces throughout the tournament.
30 – Edmund will crack the top-30 for the first time thanks to making the semis. If reaches the final, he’ll rank in the top-20.
74.6 – per cent, Edmund’s success rate in net points this tournament, won 53 out of 71 net points (20/25 in the match against Dimitrov).
78 – aces fired by Edmund so far this tournament.
184 – km/hr, the average speed of his first serve this Australian Open.
278 – winners coming off the Edmund racquet through five matches this fortnight, averaging 55.6 winners per match. He has hit 199 unforced errors.
World number four Elina Svitolina blamed a hip injury for her humiliation at the hands of Australian Open debutante Elise Mertens Tuesday.
The fourth seed from Ukraine had her nine-match win streak shattered in the quarter-final 6-4, 6-0 by unseeded Belgian Mertens on Rod Laver Arena.
“Today was very tough for me physically,” said Svitolina, who was attempting to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.
“Going into the tournament, I had a few issues with my health. Yeah, it was very sad that today I was not feeling great.”
The in-form Ukrainian, who won more WTA events than any other player in 2017, said she had suffered the injury in winning the Brisbane International earlier this month.
“It was my hip. I started to feel it actually after the final in Brisbane,” she said.
“Then it was getting worse and then was up and down. You know, I always had the tape, like, a heavy tape under the shorts.
“It’s been there all the time. I had pain all the time. But with painkillers, it was fine.”
World number 37 Mertens, on a 10-match unbeaten streak after winning in Hobart this month, sent Svitolina packing in just an 1hr 13min to become the first Belgian to make the last four since Kim Clijsters in 2012.
“You know, she played great tennis. Long rallies,” said Svitolina. “I couldn’t push on the serve. I gave her this chance to play well, and she did it.
“She didn’t give me opportunities. All the credit to her, because she played really good tennis. I couldn’t really match it.”
Svitolina had needed a run to the final to have a chance of displacing Simona Halep at the top of the world rankings.
In her 22nd Grand Slam appearance, the Ukrainian has now been thwarted three times at the quarter-final stage, the other two occasions being at Roland Garros in 2015 and last year.
* Provided by AFP
HERO OF THE DAY
The first time I interviewed Chung Hyeon, he could barely speak English. It was two years ago in Dubai and even though he couldn’t say much, I could tell that the young South Korean was smart and had a sense of humour.
He can come off as quiet and shy but once he gets comfortable, you can easily spot that he’s funny.
I asked him how he was working on his English and he said he had a friend who was travelling with him and teaching him the language. “He gives me homework,” added Chung. What’s the homework? “Prison Break,” he said with a smile, referring to the American hit TV show.
Was his father a good tennis player? “He says he was,” Chung replied, a sarcastic grin in tow.
Fast-forward to last November in Milan, where Chung went undefeated to win the Next Gen ATP Finals. Not only was he oozing confidence on the court, as he took down his all his fellow Next Gen players, but Chung was just as comfortable in the press room, cracking jokes in English, like he’d been learning it for years.
On the court, Chung is a beast, as we saw from his three-hour 21-minute straight-sets defeat of Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open fourth round on Monday.
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 22, 2018
Two years ago, Chung spoke about how much he idolises Djokovic.
“Djokovic plays good baseline and is strong mentally, everything is good, perfect, that’s why I look up to him,” said a then 19-year-old Chung.
He could easily have been describing himself in his Melbourne win over Djokovic on Monday.
Chung put together such a complete performance and even though Djokovic was visibly struggling with his elbow injury, which can often be distracting for an opponent, the South Korean never wavered and finished off the match in three sets.
From the start you could see signs of unshakeable mental strength from Chung, who is playing in just his third Australian Open main draw. Djokovic on the other hand has won the event a record six times. But when Djokovic climbed from 0-4 down in the opening set and went up 6-5, Chung was unfazed and still took the tiebreak to forge a one-set lead.
That was the story the whole match. Djokovic kept fighting back, and Chung never let go. That’s how we usually describe a healthy Djokovic.
The ever-solid baseline game, the sharp angles, the passing shots, the guts… we saw all of that from Chung on Monday.
“How do you hit those shots from the corner, it’s like watching Novak but it’s you?” Jim Courier asked Chung in his on-court interview. It sounds hyperbolic but it rang so very true if you’re judging Chung on that specific match.
Yes Djokovic is injured, and yes Chung is only 21 and is ranked 58 in the world. But one can’t deny the symbolism behind a match like that. The ageing champion ravaged by a lengthy elbow injury, against the young pretender who grew up idolising him and mimicking his style.
One of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal will probably walk away with the Australian Open title but Chung made a real statement for the Next Gen crew. And he made history in the process, becoming the first ever Korean to reach a quarter-final at a Grand Slam. The magnitude of the occasion is not lost on him.
“Today victory for my country, I think tennis coming up after this tonight,” he said in his post-match press conference.
Despite his enthusiasm, Chung’s feet are still firmly on the ground. He still puts Djokovic on a pedestal and plans on asking him for a photo one day.
“Maybe later. Maybe I want to take a picture one day. I have take picture with Rafa last year. So one by one, I think,” he signed off with a smile.
The passing shots on this guy! 🔥🔥🔥 #Chung
— Laura Robson (@laurarobson5) January 22, 2018
STATS OF THE DAY
4 – hours and 10 minutes, the total time Keys has spent on court across all four matches she’s played so far.
4 – Chung has recorded four straight wins at a tour-level event for the first time in his career.
6 – wins and 17 losses against top-20 opposition for Chung.
8 – hours and 44 minutes, total time Simona Halep has spent on court over four matches.
13 – consecutive victories for Kerber in 2018 (including Hopman Cup).
40 – Federer is the oldest Australian Open men’s quarter-finalist since Ken Rosewall reached the last-eight 40 years ago in December 1977.
57 – unforced errors hit by Djokovic during his three-set loss to Chung.
100 – winners struck by Keys so far this tournament.
Chung (🎥Eurosport) pic.twitter.com/bfBKLoW39Z
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) January 22, 2018
Agent Stuart Duguid is having a great Australian Open. Both Chung and Naomi Osaka are represented by the IMG agent and they’ve both hit new career milestones this fortnight, stealing headlines worldwide with Chung making his maiden Slam quarter-final and Osaka entering the second week of a major for the first time.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“I don’t have a plan. Actually, my boyfriend was looking her game earlier this morning. I forgot to ask him what she play, so, I actually have no plan to go on the court. So I was try to still going my Su-Wei style, you know.”
— You be you, Hsieh Su-Wei!
“Cool. That’s nice.”
— Keys when asked what she would say if she were told she was the favourite to win the Australian Open title.
“I like your optimism!”
— Berdych when told in his on-court interview that his next opponent is ‘either’ Roger Federer or Marton Fucsovics.
“To have such a great two weeks and then have it end the way that it did, it was really devastating for me, so it definitely took some time to get over.”
— Keys on losing the US Open final to Sloane Stephens last September.
“It was fun to make opponent and myself to running all the time.”
— Hsieh after her loss to Kerber. It was certainly fun to watch for us as well.
“I’m driving her crazy? Okay. This is good you told me that. Next time we try to do more (smiling).”
— Hsieh is already look forward to her next match against Kerber.
“Oh, this one was the biggest joke of a point maybe I have ever played (smiling). That thing should be anywhere else but on the other side of the court in a position where you cannot finish the point… Thankfully it didn’t decide the outcome of that second set. That would have been too much of a joke, to be honest.”
— Federer on the shank (?) below…
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 2018