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Edmund 'growing in belief' before Dimitrov quarter-final

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Australian Open quarter-finals: Edmund v Dimitrov
Date: 23 January Time: Not before 03:30 GMT Venue: Melbourne Park
Coverage: Watch highlights on BBC Two, the BBC Sport website and app. Live commentary on the best matches on BBC Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra and online.

Kyle Edmund says the belief is growing as he prepares to take on third seed Grigor Dimitrov in the Australian Open quarter-finals on Tuesday.

The pair meet during the day session on Rod Laver Arena, not before 03:30 GMT.

Britain’s Edmund, ranked 49th in the world, is through to the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time after two five-set wins in four matches.

Dimitrov, 26, has won both of their previous matches, including a three-set win in Brisbane two weeks ago.

Edmund, 23, rolled his ankle in the final set of that match, prompting Dimitrov to hurdle the net and race to his aid before play later resumed and the Bulgarian clinched victory.

“Kyle does have a chance because he’s in the quarter-finals for a reason,” Great Britain Davis Cup captain Leon Smith told BBC Radio 5 live.

“Dimitrov is a step up again at number three in the world, but they had a really close match in Brisbane. Kyle hurt his ankle. There wasn’t much in it.”

Edmund v Dimitrov – Australian Open 2018
Edmund Dimitrov
Time spent on court 11 hours 59 minutes 11 hours 33 minutes
Aces 65 44
1st serve 79% 79%
Winners 232 178
Unforced errors 151 168
Net points 46 (33 won) 102 (77 won)

A first-round win over 11th seed Kevin Anderson in Melbourne was the best of Edmund’s career to date, and his subsequent progress has confirmed his own belief that he belongs among the game’s elite.

“I have known that, but it’s always good to get those results,” he said. “You want black-and-white evidence to say: ‘Yeah, I’m playing well and beating these guys’ – not just ‘I’m playing well but I’m losing’ or ‘I’m playing well for a set or two’.

“The belief just obviously grows as you get better results and go further in tournaments.”

‘A hell of a forehand’

Fredrik Rosengren practises with Kyle Edmund

Edmund brought in Swedish coach Fredrik Rosengren and Briton Mark Hilton at the end of last year. It did not take Rosengren long to get a handle on the Edmund game.

“First of all, what I saw was a hell of a forehand – one of the best forehands out there,” said the 57-year-old Swede.

“But at the same time you have to use the forehand right. So for me it was a little bit like Kyle learned to take the right club out of the bag.

“At times, he used the driver on the putting range.”

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While the forehand needed some tactical adjustment, more technical work on the serve during the off-season at his new base in the Bahamas has paid dividends in Melbourne.

Edmund is fifth in the tournament aces chart with 65, and ninth in the standings for second-serve points won, with Smith comparing his forehand favourably with that of Australian number one Nick Kyrgios – beaten by Dimitrov on Sunday.

With his forehand way out in front of the rest of the field on 109 winners, the foundations of Edmund’s game are in good order.

“We have seen some brilliant serves from Kyle and that will be really important for him, to clean up his own service games,” said Smith.

“When he gets a forehand in play, he’s arguably more lethal than Kyrgios with it, because he is disciplined with it.”

The opposition view

Grigor Dimitrov comes to Kyle Edmund's aid after the Briton rolls his ankle in Brisbane

The man in the opposing player box will not lack for background information on Edmund.

Dani Vallverdu was a fixture alongside Ivan Lendl in Andy Murray’s team for four years, and took up the coaching role with Dimitrov in 2016.

The Bulgarian finished last year at a career-high third in the world after winning the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals in London.

Vallverdu saw Edmund close up in his younger years when the Yorkshireman travelled to Miami to train with Murray, as well as with the Davis Cup squad.

“I’m very happy for Kyle,” said the Venezuelan.

“He gets you on the back foot pretty early in the rally, he has a massive forehand, he’s improved his backhand a lot and he has a good serve.

“More than that, he’s become a better competitor, so that’s what’s going to make it tough.

“You need to be ready when you’re going to play Kyle. You need to try to take the terms of the points before he does, because otherwise he can get some big shots with the forehand.

“We need to use that experience Grigor has over Kyle in playing these bigger matches.”

Dimitrov’s form was patchy in the early rounds, with 15 double faults in the third round especially alarming, but his performance against Kyrgios on Sunday was a statement of intent.

Often thrilling for spectators, Vallverdu is encouraging a more pragmatic approach from Dimitrov.

“For the last year-and-a-half we’ve been trying to get him away from the flashy, exciting player to watch,” said Vallverdu.

“I’ve actually tried to make him a bit of a boring player to watch, which makes him more efficient.”

‘It has to be fun to be out there’

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Edmund might have the kind of game that can blow opponents off the court, but his on-court demeanour has been more in line with his quiet character.

To win major titles he will need to command the biggest stages against the best players, something the very animated Rosengren has been working on.

“I always believe it has to be fun out there,” he said. “You have to enjoy the challenge.

“Sometimes you can be part of a great match, enjoyed it, and you lost.

“We talked about this a lot but at the same time he can’t do this because I told him – it has to come from his heart. It has to come naturally.

“But I think he really enjoys it when he does it. I’m not telling him any more to do this. And I 100% believe it helps him in his game.”

Rafael Nadal said on Sunday that the only surprise to him was that Edmund had not begun winning big matches earlier, and the Briton’s development has not gone unnoticed in the locker room.

“We’ve seen a couple of changes, in his self-confidence, the way he’s hitting the ball, his demeanour on the court,” said Vallverdu.

“It’s great to see someone develop into the player that he is now, vying for big results on the big stages.”

Edmund is bidding to become the sixth British man to reach the last four at a major in the Open Era after Andy Murray, Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski, John Lloyd and Roger Taylor

Edmund must win ‘mental game’

Dimitrov played his part in one of the matches of 2017 when he took Nadal to five sets in last year’s semi-final, and the pair are expected to meet again at the same stage this week.

Edmund’s progress ever since his junior days has been impressive, but has happened on a step-by-step basis, and Dimitrov will have the experience of three previous Grand Slam quarter-finals to call upon.

“I have to believe I’m going to win and believe in my game,” said Edmund. “That’s the way I have approached it, one match at a time, and I continue to do that.”

Dimitrov was much improved against Kyrgios but there were still fleeting moments of frailty, and he will take nothing for granted on Tuesday.

“He’s gone this far, so for sure I need to be ready,” said the Bulgarian. “Simple as that. There is no place for underestimation or anything like that.”

Edmund’s route to the last eight
First round: Beats Kevin Anderson 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4
Second round: Beats Denis Istomin 6-2 6-2 6-4
Third round: Beats Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6 (7-0) 3-6 4-6 6-0 7-5
Fourth round: Beats Andreas Seppi 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-2 6-3

Edmund appeared nervous in the early stages against Andreas Seppi in the previous round, and Rosengren knows his man must quickly find his feet against the third seed.

“This is what we are going to work on on Monday night – a lot,” said Rosengren.

“I’m going to try to get Kyle to understand that he has got to go out there tomorrow and try to win, and not be happy being in the quarter-final.

“But of course it is his first quarter-final – he is a human being. And it’s a mental game.”

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