Losing grand slam semi-finalists do not come more upbeat than Kyle Edmund.
He has spent the past the past 12 days in Melbourne billed as the quiet man of the sport: impressive on court, shy and slightly ill at ease away from it. But after he had been beaten 6-2, 7-6, 6-2 by Marin Cilic, he was enjoying every second of what he had just achieved.
It is not that he was satisfied to have reached the final four at the Australian Open – far from it – it was that he had seen that he could live with the big boys at the big tournaments. He always believed in his own abilities but now he had proved to everyone that he was good enough to challenge for important titles. And that has given Edmund a whole new outlook on life.
“It’s just getting the experience of going deep in a slam for the first time and all the stuff that comes with it,” he said. “This type of tournament just gives you the bug to want more. Once you get a taste, it’s like, yeah, I want more of this. I definitely go away from the whole week feeling positive.”
The semi-final was fairly straightforward. Edmund was below par in the first set and then needed treatment for a hip or groin injury (he would not say) before the second set began.
In that second set, he had a long discussion with the umpire and the assistant tournament referee about a decision that went against him, one that sparked a new aggression and resolve in him. But by the third set, the experienced Cilic was in control. The Croat will be in Sunday’s final while Edmund will be heading for the airport today.
Yet Edmund, who started the tournament as the world No 49 and leaves as the No 26, refused to be downhearted. He was disappointed to lose but desperate to take the lessons he has learned this past week and a half back to the regular tour and get back to work.
“Making the semi-finals of a grand slam is definitely something that I can be very happy with and really take that forward,” he said. “I can build from it, for sure. I take belief and confidence from it.
“The top players, their level is good but other players can beat them, because their level is good as well. But what they [the top players] do so well is they can play like that consistently. That’s what the ranking represents: how consistent players are.
“That’s the goal. I know that the more consistently you can play at a high level, that’s where you’re going to get top ranking and results.”
There is nothing Edmund has not enjoyed about his trip Down Under. The injury was dismissed as “irrelevant” even if may not heal in time for him to play in Britain’s Davis Cup tie against Spain next week.
When the tournament began, no one but the British press pack noticed Edmund. But as he worked through the rounds, knocking out Kevin Anderson, the world No 12, in the first match and Grigor Dimitrov, the world No 3, in the quarter-finals, more and more people wanted a piece of him. And as the days went by, so Edmund grew into his new role as a “name” in Melbourne. It may not have come naturally to him but he took to his new status. He is maturing as both a player and a person. “The attention comes with the territory of doing well,” he said. “That’s what happens. If you embrace it, I think you cope with it better. The top guys like Roger [Federer] and that, they have been doing it their whole life. They crack on and embrace it. It’s good to learn from them.
“The overriding emotion is just take away all the positives, really. Every tournament there’s stuff to work on. If you lose first round or win the tournament, there’s always stuff to work on. For me, to make my first semi-finals is definitely a positive.”
As someone once said: “Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man.” After Edmund’s past 12 days in Melbourne, no one in the men’s locker room would dare to.