Marin Cilic ends Kyle Edmund's dream run to reach Australian Open final

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Marin Cilic dominated British hope Kyle Edmund in straight sets to become the first Croatian to reach the final of the Australian Open on Thursday.

The world No.6 powered into his third Grand Slam decider with a 6-2, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 win in 2hr 18min on Rod Laver Arena over the unseeded Edmund to be the first man into Sunday’s final.

He will face either defending champion Roger Federer or unseeded South Korean Chung Hyeon, who play on Friday.

“Overall I’m feeling really good,” Cilic said. “Now I have two days off before the final.

“I noticed in the third game of the third set, when I broke him, he just let a couple of balls go past him.

“So I realised his movement was a little bit restricted, so I just tried to move the ball around and obviously that second break was extremely crucial.”

It was an emphatic performance by the 2014 US Open champion, who broke Edmund’s serve four times and nullified the Briton’s powerful forehand.

The victory ensured that he will rise to a career-high of three when the new rankings come out on Monday.

Cilic will be only the second player outside the ‘Big Four’ of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Federer to reach the Melbourne final since Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008 decider.

He lost to Federer in last year’s Wimbledon final, but beat the 19-time Grand Slam champion in the semi-finals on the way to his US Open triumph.

Cilic trails the Swiss ace 8-1, but leads Chung 3-0 in their meetings.

MEDICAL TIMEOUT

Kyle Edmund 1

It was a match too far for 23-year-old Edmund, who upset world No.3 Grigor Dimitrov and world No.11 Kevin Anderson on the way to his first Grand Slam semi-final but had little left in the tank.

Cilic’s quick returns kept him on the defensive and the Croatian broke through in the sixth game when a net cord bounced out.

The Croat attacked Edmund’s backhand and kept away from his forehand weapon and came up with a second break with a forehand to the corner for the opening set.

Edmund left the court for a medical timeout and fought off break point in the fourth game of the second set.

At one point he become furious with umpire John Blom for awarding a point rather than replaying and ruling that it had not put the Briton off playing the shot. 

Games went with service but the Croatian was too strong in the tiebreaker, getting to three set points and taking a two sets to love lead with a backhand winner.

Cilic broke in the third game of the final set to take a firm grip as Edmund dropped his head.

It got no better as Edmund hit a backhand wide on break point to drop serve again in the seventh game to leave Cilic with the task of serving out for victory.

Despite losing it was a breakthrough tournament for Edmund, the only British man in this year’s field after five-time finalist Andy Murray’s injury withdrawal.

He became only the fourth British man to reach the Australian Open semi-finals in the post-1968 Open Era.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Angelique Kerber after tight loss to Simona Halep: I know that I'm back

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Angelique Kerber says she gave “everything” in her rollercoaster Australian Open semi-final loss to Simona Halep, and is happy to be back near her best after a lean spell.

The German, who won the tournament in 2016, had a form slump last year that saw her plunge down the rankings from being world number one at the start of 2017.

But a win in the lead-up Sydney International and a run to the last four at the opening Grand Slam of the year has been enough to convince her that she is again a force to be reckoned with.

“I know that I’m back,” she said after pushing world number one Halep to the brink in her 6-3, 4-6, 9-7 defeat, fashioning two match points but unable to convert either.

“I know that I can play again good tennis in front of amazing crowds and play tough matches, winning also matches where I’m down and fighting until the last point.

“For me, the most important thing is that I’m again on court, and I’m fighting.

“I gave my heart there. I really enjoyed every single moment.

“You have to play your best every single day. I think that’s what I did it every single day here when I was here in Australia.”

Kerber is projected to race up the rankings to number nine from her current 16 when they are released after the tournament.

She said she was most satisfied with her fighting qualities in the Halep match.

“I mean, I gave everything. This is what I will tell myself in the next few days,” said Kerber, who celebrated her 30th birthday in Melbourne.

“And looking back what I achieved in the last three weeks, yeah, it was not so bad.

“When I’m looking back at four, five weeks ago, and somebody told me that I will win so many matches in a row, win a title, be in the semis here, and still having the opportunity to win this match, all is well.”

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Simona Halep to face Caroline Wozniacki in Australian Open final after overcoming Angelique Kerber

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Simona Halep is through to the Australian Open final.

Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki will do battle in the Australian Open final on Saturday with a first grand slam title and the world number one ranking at stake.

After Wozniacki withstood a major wobble with the finish line in sight to beat Elise Mertens 6-3 7-6 (7/2), Halep defeated title favourite Angelique Kerber 6-3 4-6 9-7, with the third set a battle of lung-busting brilliance.

The final will be a clash between the top two seeds who share more than simply proximity in the rankings.

Both have been ranked number one without winning a slam, both lost their first two finals and, heading into the second half of their careers, both know they may never get a better chance.

Cynics would call it the desperation derby, and whichever player handles the occasion better is very likely to come out the winner.

Halep achieved the bigger result in the semi-finals, beating the form player of 2017, former Melbourne champion Kerber, who went into the clash on a 10-match winning streak.

Angelique Kerber congratulates Simona Halep on her victory.

Angelique Kerber congratulates Simona Halep on her victory.

It pitted two of the best athletes and counter-punchers on the women’s tour against each other, so long rallies seemed to be a given, yet after 13 minutes the score was 5-0 to Halep.

But Kerber mounted a comeback, winning three games in a row, before Halep broke serve again to take the set. The Romanian has made no secret that her sole focus now is on winning a slam title, but Kerber clung on by her fingernails in the second set, recovering from 1-3 and then saving break points that would have given Halep a 5-3 lead.

She got her reward with three games in a row to take the set as Halep’s belief wavered and then broke to start the third with an extraordinary point that was a taste of things to come.

Halep looked to have made the decisive breakthrough when she opened up a 5-3 lead but Kerber broke back, ending the final titanic point on her knees with her head pressed to the court.

A pinpoint HawkEye challenge gave Halep two match points in the next game but Kerber saved them both and then gave herself the chance to serve for victory at 6-5. She got to 40-15 but now it was Halep’s turn to dig in and hang on.

They were the fourth and fifth match points the Romanian has saved this tournament after she withstood three in another remarkable battle against Lauren Davis in round three.

Halep said: “It definitely was very tough, I’m shaking, I’m very emotional. She’s a very tough opponent. I’m really glad that I could resist and I could win this match. I have just to enjoy.

“I had just confidence in myself. I decided after I twist my ankle (in the first round) that I will fight for every point in this tournament and then I will rest. I didn’t give up, not even a ball. If you don’t give up you can win the match in the end. I did it and I’m really proud of myself.”

All seemed to be going smoothly for Wozniacki against surprise package Mertens in the first match until she served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and from 30-0 lost four straight points, double-faulting on the last of them.

Wozniacki then had to save two set points but, seven years after holding match point in the last four here against Li Na and losing, she engineered a different outcome.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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