KYLE EDMUND has the grand slam bug and is determined his taste of the big time will not be his last.
The Beverley 23-year-old’s stunning run at the Australian Open ended with a 6-2 7-6 (7/4) 6-2 loss to sixth seed Marin Cilic in the semi-finals, but he will leave Melbourne with nothing but positive memories and encouragement for the months and years ahead.
“Obviously I’m disappointed I lost but it’s been a really good couple of weeks for me,” he said.
“I got the experience of going deep in a slam for the first time and all the stuff that comes with it – playing a couple of matches on Rod Laver.
“I can be very happy with the way I’ve gone about things. I’ve played a lot of tough matches. Won some tough matches. Beat good players. There’s nothing better than winning best-of-five-set matches in tennis tournaments.
“Best-of-five sets should always stay in the men’s game. It’s a true test of quality and grit and stuff. It’s a battle.
“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’ll definitely go away from the whole week feeling extremely positive.”
Edmund’s big weapon, his sledgehammer of a forehand, was no secret but, under new coach Fredrik Rosengren, he has improved his serve and added the mental strength to flourish under pressure.
The package has been hugely impressive and, as well as his £500,000 in prize money, he will leave Australia as a top-30 player for the first time and with the belief he can push on towards the very top of the game.
“Reaching the fourth round of the US Open a few years ago, I beat quality players there, (Richard) Gasquet and John (Isner).
“I know I can beat those players. It’s just obviously doing it a bit more consistently. What the ranking represents is how consistent players are. So that’s the goal.”
Cilic, who has experience of winning a grand slam at the US Open in 2014, was always going to be a very tough challenge but Edmund looked weary in mind and body and was unable to play at his best.
His only two break points came in the very first game of the match while he took an off-court medical time-out at the end of the first set. He did not want to specify what the injury is but it is believed to be a hip problem.
I can be very happy with the way I’ve gone about things. I’ve played a lot of tough matches. Won some tough matches. Beat good players.Kyle Edmund
“There’s something, but whatever,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, it happens. I was below my standard and wish I could have played a lot better.”
Edmund must now be considered a major doubt for Britain’s Davis Cup first-round tie against Spain in Marbella next week, particularly given that the tie is on clay.
The 23-year-old will fly back to London later today, and he said: “I’ll do everything I can to play, because I want to play. I want to be there with the team. But there is no point going on court if I’m not ready.”
In recent days, Edmund has had a taste of all the grand slam hoopla Andy Murray has had to deal with over the years and, while nothing on the court has come as a surprise, the level of attention has left him slightly bewildered.
He said: “My dad’s got three more jobs than I knew he had and my first love was swimming, which I never knew. I slightly feel people over-react. Like was it King Edmund VI?
“But the attention comes with the territory of doing well. If you embrace it, I think you cope with it better.
“I probably don’t get as much now as a lot of other people, so you have to realise there’s always someone else dealing with a lot more.
“And the top guys like Roger (Federer), they have been doing it their whole life. They just crack on and embrace it. It’s good to learn from them.”
Cilic will play either Federer or Chung Hyeon in his first Australian Open final on Sunday. The pair are scheduled to play their match at around 8.45am on Friday morning.