We look at the improvements Kyle Edmund has made after the Brit pulled off a stunning win over third seed Grigor Dimitrov to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
The British No 2, who had only once previously been beyond the third round at a Grand Slam, will climb from 49 in the rankings to 26 even if he loses in the last four.
Here, we look at the improvements Edmund has made that have led to his big breakthrough.
Edmund’s serve was not a weakness before but neither was it the strength it should have been. When he began working with coaches Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton last year, the first thing they agreed in the off-season was to change the technique on his serve. It is paying off handsomely. Edmund is placing the serve better and his wide, sliced serve on the deuce side has been particularly effective. Last season he won an average of 74 per cent of points on his first serve – his average this tournament is 78, while he is also winning more free points. Rosengren said: “You can put more risk into your return if you know you believe in your serve. It is very, very important.”
Edmund has long been a player of great promise and his huge forehand is a weapon genuinely feared by the leading players in the game. But going toe-to-toe with the best only yields results if you can get across the finish line. Last season Edmund had a real problem in close matches. Of 25 deciding sets, he won only seven, and a potentially very good season turned into an average one. This season already he has won four out of five and, crucially, has been rock solid at the key moments in matches. To his credit he did not shy away from the issue, talking it through with Rosengren, and his self-belief has now caught up with his game.
Edmund’s endurance has been another key factor in his run. He has spent 14 hours and 48 minutes on court, longer than any other player, and faced brutal heat during his five-set match against Nikoloz Basilashvili in round three. But he has risen to each challenge and recovered very well. In the early stages of his career, Edmund struggled to maintain his fitness over long matches and suffered a few times with cramp, but that now appears a thing of the past.
This is the biggest area where Edmund can still improve but he showed during his match against Dimitrov it is something he has already worked on. If he can marry the power of his forehand with the ability to finish points off consistently at the net, he will take some stopping. He recognised it would be tough to hit through Dimitrov’s defences so pushed him back before, on several occasions, hitting fine drop volleys. He won 20 out of 25 points at the net, a seriously impressive statistic for someone who is not a natural volleyer against one of the best players in the world.
Edmund made strides under previous coach Ryan Jones but one of the keys to continual improvement as a player is recognising when you need to make a change and finding the right person or people to work with. So far it appears he has done that. Veteran Swede Rosengren has worked with a slew of top-10 players and exudes positivity and energy, while Edmund will also spend weeks travelling with highly-regarded British coach Hilton, who he has known for many years.