Britain’s Kyle Edmund reached the quarter-finals of a grand slam for the first time after coming from a set down to oust Italian Andreas Seppi 6-7(4) 7-5 6-2 6-3 in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Sunday.
The 23-year-old, the only Briton in the men’s draw in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, smashed 63 winners to progress to a last eight meeting with Grigor Dimitrov or Nick Kyrgios when Seppi netted after just under three hours on court.
Edmund also fired down 25 aces to tame the neat Italian but it was the thumping winners, particularly off his forehand, that proved decisive after he had reduced the error count that marred his display in the first set.
The first Briton other than Murray to reach the last eight at Melbourne Park since John Lloyd in 1985, Edmund politely shook hands with his opponent at the net before leaping off the ground with punch in the air.
“He plays very well here, he has reached the fourth round a few times and is playing very well but so was I,” the unassuming Yorkshireman said on court.
“Through to my first quarter-final. I am very happy.”
The world number 49 might have been forgiven a slow start after going five sets with 11th seed Kevin Anderson in round one and again in brutal heat with Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in round three.
Edmund duly delivered with 23 unforced errors as Seppi, a decade older and a veteran of three previous trips to the fourth round of the Australian Open, held serve with ease and mustered up five break points.
A medical timeout and a shoulder massage from the trainer did not help Edmund much initially and Seppi raced away with the tiebreak to clinch the first set in 56 minutes.
Things did not look much better at the start of the second with an early break going the Italian’s way but Edmund stormed back to put the set back on serve with a crunching forehand and levelled up the match on another break from a second set point.
A leaping backhand service return gave Edmund the early break in the third set and the Briton never looked back as he raced away to take a 2-1 lead after little more than half an hour.
It was Seppi’s turn to take a medical timeout for a shoulder problem at the start of the fourth set but by now Edmund was earning break points on the Italian’s every service game and only required the one to clinch the victory.
“It was a close first set and I didn’t feel I got the best start,” he said.
“He was hitting the ball very clean. In the second set I tried to shift the momentum and once I broke him in the last game of the second set I took control of the match.”
RAFA NADAL vs DIEGO SCHWARTZMAN 3-1 (6-3,6-7,6-3,6-3)
Top seed Rafa Nadal was rattled by a feisty challenge from Diego Schwartzman but held firm to fend off the diminutive Argentine 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday.
In an often breathtaking clash boasting some sumptuous shot-making, the Spaniard was stunned by the hard-hitting Schwartzman who broke him three times before claiming the second set at Rod Laver Arena.
But the 16-times grand slam champion responded with typical grit, raising his defensive game to blanket the 24th seed’s firepower and claiming the win on the third match point with a rocketed backhand return down the line.
The victory ensured Nadal will retain his world number one ranking and set up a meeting with sixth seed and former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic for a place in the semi-finals.