Kyle Edmund celebrated one of the best victories of his career after coming from two sets to one down to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili in searingly hot conditions at the Australian Open.
Britain’s remaining singles hope looked to be struggling as temperatures hit 40.2C but he showed tremendous physical and mental resilience to win 7-6 (7/0), 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5 and reach the fourth round of a grand slam for a second time.
Edmund’s progress was held back last year by a failure to win close matches, and he arrived in Australia having lost his last three five-setters. But he has answered the doubters spectacularly, going the distance against US Open finalist Kevin Anderson in round one, and then against Georgian Basilashvili yesterday.
One interested spectator back home was Andy Murray, who watched the match in the middle of the night and then tweeted to call it the biggest win of Edmund’s career.
“It’s definitely up there,” said the 23-year-old. “It’s really hard to say if it’s the best win or not. For sure, the physical test, it was a great, great win for me to come through like that in a grand slam. Best-of-five sets in that kind of heat, it’s really good for my career and my confidence going forward.”
Edmund suffered a lull after appearing in control at a set and a break up but a 20-minute Basilashvili service game early in the fourth set, where he finally broke, turned the match in his favour.
He won only seven of 27 break points and made 64 unforced errors but this was a day for heart and fortitude rather than exceptional tennis, and Edmund was not found wanting.
Basilashvili, ranked 61 to Edmund’s 49, quickly settled for a deciding set after his titanic service game, which featured eight break points and 15 deuces, and came back strongly in the fifth.
But, after Edmund had coolly saved a break point at 4-4, Basilashvili sent down his 17th double fault to hand his opponent a match point and then netted a backhand.
Fair-haired Yorkshiremen are not made for Australian heatwaves but Edmund ended the match looking physically better than his opponent. The secret, he revealed, was to grin and bear it.
“It was hot, man,” he said. “It’s tough. There is no getting around it. Mentally, I just accepted it’s going to be tough today. Physically you’re probably going to be feeling not your best. It’s probably the hottest conditions I’ve played in for that period of time.”
Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils both felt the conditions were potentially dangerous after their match on Thursday but Edmund had no objections about being asked to play. “It’s a professional sport,” he said. “It’s meant to hurt. It’s not meant to be easy. If people do start to become ill, then it might be a concern. But as far as I’ve seen, everyone’s sort of just getting through.”
Edmund must now try to recover for his fourth-round match against either Italian Andreas Seppi or 6ft 11in Ivo Karlovic tomorrow.
The British player will again be the higher ranked player, as he was against Basilashvili, and on paper it is a great chance for Edmund to reach his first grand slam quarter-final.
He is optimistic he will be ready for another challenge, saying: “You’ve got a day off. It’s normal tennis, that’s why we train every day, because you need accumulation of hours. I’m pretty confident. There’s two sleeps until the match.”