|2018 Australian Open|
|Dates: 15-28 January Venue: Melbourne Park|
|Coverage: Watch highlights on BBC Two, the BBC Sport website and app from 20 January. Live commentary on the best matches on BBC Radio and online.|
Kyle Edmund fought back in punishing heat to beat Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili in five sets and reach the Australian Open fourth round.
The Briton, 23, recovered from a mid-match slump as the temperature hit 39C to win 7-6 (7-0) 3-6 4-6 6-0 7-5.
Edmund, ranked 49th, took control by converting his eighth break point in a remarkable 20-minute game at the start of the fourth set.
He will face Italian Andreas Seppi in the last 16.
Edmund is ranked 27 places higher than Seppi in the world rankings and won their only previous meeting in Antwerp in 2016.
British number one Andy Murray tweeted afterwards that it was the best win of his Davis Cup team-mate’s career, and Edmund said: “It’s definitely up there, for sure.
“For 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, really good for my career and my confidence going forward.”
‘The heat zaps the energy out of you’
Edmund is through to the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the second time, and the first time in Melbourne – and he certainly earned his place over a gruelling three hours and 34 minutes.
It had been forecast all week that Friday would be the hottest day of the tournament, with a peak of 42C expected later in the day, but that did not make it any easier to deal with.
Edmund racked up 70 winners and 64 errors, and missed 20 of 27 break points, in a contest of wildly fluctuating momentum, but it was a day to get through rather than worry about the statistics.
“It was hot. It’s tough. There is no getting around it,” said Edmund.
“Mentally, I just accepted it’s going to be tough today. Physically you’re probably going to be feeling not your best. That’s just the way I approached it.
“It was tough out there. It zaps the energy out of you.”
‘The longest game in my career’
The Briton required early attention to his shoulder but looked in complete control when he led by a set and a break, only for his form to dip alarmingly.
Fifteen forehand errors contributed to seven straight games for the resurgent Basilashvili, and the world number 61 appeared to be coping with the conditions better as he moved two sets to one up.
“The game went away from me,” said Edmund. “I lost my way a bit, and he obviously got confidence from it.”
The momentum would shift decisively in the second game of the fourth set, an epic contest in itself.
After 20 minutes, 15 deuces and eight break points, Edmund finally clinched it, raising his fists in triumph, and he would race through the rest of the set in just 19 minutes.
“It was probably the longest game in my career,” said Edmund.
“That game actually worked out to be a very key game, because that game was a set from him. The way he played, dictated he wanted to go to a fifth.
“It was a key game to get through, and a very long game.”
‘Two sleeps until round four’
It was a credit to both players that the fifth set was a hard-fought affair, with Edmund missing two more break points at 3-2 and Basilashvili shanking a backhand at 4-4 that could have left him serving for the match.
If Edmund’s Achilles heel had been break points, however, it was double faults that were the downfall of the Georgian.
A 17th of the day left Basilashvili facing the first match point of the contest and he sent a backhand sailing out, to the delight of the watching British contingent – and the relief on an exhausted Edmund.
The British number two headed straight off court for a 10-minute ice bath, but expects to be ready to compete again in 48 hours.
“I’m pretty confident,” said Edmund. “Two sleeps until the match. I guess the beauty of Grand Slams is you get that day off.”
Edmund’s encouraging consistency – analysis
BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller at Melbourne Park
The way Edmund sank into his shaded chair after a brutal three-and-a-half hours of combat spoke volumes for what he and Basilashvili had just put themselves through.
Edmund looked far superior in the opening set and a half, before losing seven games in a row. And he may have struggled to overcome a two sets to one deficit had he not won that 20-minute game of 15 deuces early in the fourth set.
The dawning of the fifth set sparked both players into life – perhaps because the finishing line was now in sight, and the thought of losing just too painful after so much toil.
Edmund showed ambition and aggression as he seized the decisive break of serve. He is developing an encouraging consistency in the Grand Slams having reached the fourth round at the US Open two years ago, and the third round in both New York and Paris last year.
And unlike at Flushing Meadows in 2016, Novak Djokovic will not lie in wait in the last 16.
Edmund in Grand Slams
- By defeating number 11 seed Kevin Anderson 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4, Denis Istomin 6-2 6-2 6-4 and now Basilashvili, Edmund has recorded his best Australian Open result. His previous best performance was reaching the second round last year
- Edmund’s best Grand Slam result is reaching the last 16 at the 2016 US Open, where he defeated two seeded players before falling to Novak Djokovic in straight sets
- In Grand Slams in 2017 Edmund reached the third round at the French Open and the US Open and the second round at Wimbledon and the Australian Open