There are few who will be surprised that 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov is into the quarter-finals at the Australian Open. After making his mark at Melbourne Park in 2017 in an epic five-setter in the semi-finals against Rafael Nadal, the Bulgarian went on to have a career season on the ATP World Tour, winning his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati, triumphing at the season finale in London and climbing to a career-best No. 3 in the ATP Rankings.
But before the tournament, few could have expected that World No. 49 Kyle Edmund, who had only once previously advanced to the fourth round of a Grand Slam championship, would make his way to the quarter-finals. But the Briton knocked out US Open finalist Kevin Anderson and, when three other seeds all went out in the first round (the first time four seeds from the same eighth of a major draw lost that early since Grand Slams went from 16 to 32 seeds at 2001 Wimbledon), an opportunity arose.
A reporter asked Edmund after his fourth-round victory over Italian veteran Andreas Seppi on Sunday whether he believes he can win a Slam.
“You have to believe it. I mean, that’s why I’m in the quarter-finals, because every time I step on the court and I’m playing, I believe I’m going to win,” Edmund said. “It’s no different now. The next opponent, I take it one step at a time. Whoever I’m playing on Tuesday, I have to believe I’m going to win and believe in my game and stuff.”
That self-belief should help contribute to a cracking match on Rod Laver Arena, one that Dimitrov says he will be prepared for regardless of Edmund’s position in the ATP Rankings.
“I mean, he’s gone that far. So for sure I need to be ready. Simple as that. There is no place for underestimation or anything like that. You have just got to go out there and play your tennis,” said Dimitrov, who produced a strong performance in his fourth-round victory against home favourite Nick Kyrgios. “The only thing I have been focusing since day one out here on the court is really looking after my side of the game and my side of the net. This is what I want to progress. I want to be better. And it doesn’t matter who I play. I just want to do better.”
Dimitrov leads the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head 2-0, but their last match just weeks ago at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp shows that this should be an interesting matchup of styles — Dimitrov’s all-court game, up against Edmund’s powerful forehand that has propelled him to his best major run.
In Brisbane, the duo were locked at 4-4 in the deciding set when Edmund was wrong-footed, turning his right ankle. Dimitrov leapt over the net and ran to his opponent to provide aid. And while Edmund would finish the match, the Bulgarian closed out the next two games to advance. Read Match Report
Is That A Bird? Is That A Plane? No, It’s Dimitrov!
“It’s a shame it happened like that, but what do you do? It’s sport. It happens,” Edmund said after the match in Brisbane. “It was a good match, I thought. I played well. He played well. We were both really into it. From my side of things personally, it was a lot of positives. Lot of stuff I’m working on that really showed against, you know, top player, No. 3 in the world.”
Now, Edmund will get another shot at finishing off Dimitrov in the biggest match of his career. But since surviving a tough five-setter in the second round, the favourite has steadily improved and appears ready for the challenge.