January 25, 2018
Marin Cilic ended Kyle Edmund’s Aussie Open dream, with a little help from the Brit’s aching body, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
Edmund limped at times and struggled for the kind of consistently agile movement that helped him get this far. Maybe Marin would have beaten him anyway.
Cilic paid tribute to Kyle like this: ‘He is playing great tennis and he has improved a lot in the last couple of years. The five-set matches this tournament definitely left a few scars on his body.’
There was no shame in the way it unfolded for the underdog. And Edmund can reflect upon his amazing run and the way it finished with his head held high.
Cilic, you will recall, made the Wimbledon final only last year. He was US Open champion in 2014. The man is class.
Edmund is still learning his craft as he joins the elite. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman tried everything. He even emulated Roger Federer by arguing with the umpire to get himself fired up.
Edmund remonstrated and even demanded to see the referee when Cilic was awarded one point by Hawkeye. The scores were level in the fifth game of the second set.
The ball was originally called out, distracting Edmund from his return, the Brit argued. Then, when Hawkeye ruled the serve in, Cilic was given the point.
‘Get the referee, I’m not having it,’ said Edmund, insisting the point be replayed.
The umpire said he couldn’t do that, but the referee arrived anyway, only to back his official.
In truth, Edmund was already in trouble. He had been broken twice in the first, losing it clearly, despite having two early break points himself.
Then he went off with the trainer for what seemed like an eternity, and you wondered whether he would even be able to continue.
He did, and slugged it out with Cilic all the way through that feisty second set, showing admirable passion and finding some success. But the Croat had more experience and a technical edge to go with it on the night.
Edmund took Cilic all the way to a tie-break. But some of his returns couldn’t find their target during some of the biggest moments. And it could be argued that he unwittingly played into his opponent’s hands during others, as he went down 4-7 in the breaker.
But these are areas “Kedders” can learn from, as he continues to develop. He has Grand Slam semi-final experience now, he can only get better, he is only just 23 and he has done superbly.
The whole of Britain can be proud of a player who will now challenge Andy Murray for top spot back home – and set Wimbledon alight with a new and fascinating domestic rivalry.
Meanwhile, Simona Halep showed why she is world number one by defeating a woman who used to hold that distinction, Angelique Kerber.
The final set was truly dramatic – and Halep had to save two match points before she won through 9-7 to reach the final.
There she will play the in-form Caroline Wozniacki, yet another former world number one, who, like Halep, has never won a Grand Slam.
So the women’s trophy will have a brand new owner, and no one can say that Halep and Wozniacki don’t deserve another tilt at the meaningful silverware after all their spectacular exploits over the years.
Halep hit the ground running against Kerber, knowing she couldn’t afford another slow start. Instead, it was the German who was caught cold, finding herself 0-5 down in the blink of an eye.
By the time she started playing in that first set it was too late, and Kerber eventually succumbed 3-6.
She had found enough rhythm to go into the next clashes with more confidence, though, and took the second set 6-4.
That was when the true battle of wills commenced. And no one who witnessed it will forget what followed in a hurry.
Either woman could have closed out. Neither woman allowed it to happen, not for a very long time at least.
Kerber saved two match points while serving to stay in the match at 4-5 in the third. Then she fought her way to the brink of victory – one you might have expected, given Halep’s penchant for flapping under severe pressure in massive matches.
But Halep, who lost the French Open final to Ostapenko having led, and was two points from beating Jo Konta at Wimbledon, dug in with extra tenacity this time – and wasn’t to be denied.
She saved two match points as Kerber served at 6-5. Then she lasted the longest, as both women gasped for air and searched for reserves of energy that was barely there.
Eventually, on her fourth match point in total, Halep sent a shot deep enough for Kerber to be left distraught. ‘I’m shaking right now, I’m really emotional,’ said a triumphant Halep.
And Caroline Wozniack was equally elated after defeating Elise Mertens 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), to ensure we’ll have a new champion. ‘That finals feeling!’ she tweeted. ‘It means so much to me.’
Should be a great showpiece!
Edmund might be out of the Austrailian Open but let’s look forward to seeing him at Wimbledon! Get your Wimbledon tickets here