Queen’s 2016: Andy Murray beats Kyle Edmund to set up Cilic semi-final
Andy Murray beats Kyle Edmund in three sets to reach the semi-finals at Queen's Club
There had been a real buzz about the top quarter of the draw in the Aegon Championships from the moment it was made, because the best four British men, all now in the top 100, were in the same section, headed by the four-time champion and top seed Andy Murray.
Three of them got through the first round, too: Murray, Aljaz Bedene and Kyle Edmund. But only two could make the quarters—and Murray beat Bedene.
There he would indeed take on the other Briton after Edmund advanced courtesy of the withdrawal of Paul-Henri Mathieu, who had been taken to three grueling sets and two and a half hours by the fourth Briton, Dan Evans.
So the buzz grew in volume, for there had not been a quarter-final between two British men on the main tour since Adelaide in 2002, and not one at Queen’s during the Open era.
This one had something of the master and pupil about it, or perhaps rather mentor and mentee. The 29-year-old Murray had never played the 21-year-old Edmund on the tour before, though they did face off at the end-of-season Tie Break 10 exhibition at the Albert Hall last December, where Edmund blasted his way to the $250,000 prize.
After that match, Murray had one piece of advice for the then 20-year-old: “Invest the money in your people.”
Edmund agreed: “The best thing is to invest it in my career. If I invest in support and trainers, it’s going to help me on court.”
It has done just that. Since then, Edmund has reached a career high of 85 after winning two Challengers from three finals this year. And playing this tournament for just the second time, he scored the highest-ranking win of his career against Gilles Simon.
There is no doubt, then, that Murray has been an inspiration in getting him this far. Prior to their Albert Hall showdown, Edmund had played his first live Davis Cup rubber in a squad, led by Murray, that went on to win the famous trophy for the first time in 80 years. He even very nearly pulled off a win over world No11 David Goffin, leading by two sets before losing in five.
For as Edmund pointed out after this match: “He’s been so, so good to me. In the last three pre-seasons I’ve spent with him, he’s given me a lot of information and insight that has really benefited me.
“It’s a bit weird looking up to someone, and then you have to almost see them as your enemy [on court] but Andy’s been really good to me.”
However the younger man did not look overawed in the slightest, and he and Murray exchanged breaks on the way to 3-3 in the first set. A miraculous diving backhand volley from Murray converted another break chance in the seventh game, though, and the world No2 served strongly to hold his advantage, 6-4, after 40 minutes of high-quality tennis.
Edmund came out for the second set even stronger, held to love at 2-1, and then stepped in with some aggressive returning on both wings to break for 3-1.
Murray’s experience kicked in immediately to break straight back, and he looked ready to take the match by the throat when he led 40-0 in the sixth. But more terrific returning from Edmund pulled him level, and Murray slipped to the ground in his efforts to reach a pass at the net.
Murray had clearly twinged his upper thigh, and one more crunched forehand winner from Edmund sealed the break for 4-2. He then consolidated with a net winner for 5-2, but the real test came on his next service game: Could he contain his nerves and level the match?
Murray certainly did his best to halt Edmund, and took advantage of too many second serves to bring up two break points. But the younger man resisted, and took the set with a cracking backhand winner down the line, 6-3.
Murray came under more pressure in the opening game of the third as he was taken to deuce with a bullet of a forehand return of serve winner. But he responded in kind, and began to inject more venom into his tennis. He stepped in and attacked Edmund’s serve, broke, held for 3-0, then repeated the strategy.
Edmund finally got on the board for 1-5 and threatened to break in the seventh, but an 11th Murray ace quashed that plan and he served it out, 6-1, after an hour and 50 minutes.
Murray was, not surprisingly, very complimentary of his opponent.
“I train with Kyle a lot so I know how good he is—big strong guy, very powerful game and when he’s on he’s very tough to play.
“Kyle’s obviously the future of the game in this country. It’s important that he’s given time to develop at his own rate, not put too much pressure put on him. He’s doing great, improving every year. If he’s given time and little bit of space to keep developing, and not too much pressure on results at this stage, he can go very far.”
Encouraging words indeed.
Murray afterwards confirmed that his groin pull was sore but not a concern, which is good news ahead of his semi-final against 2012 champion and No5 seed Marin Cilic.
The 2014 US Open champion had a long battle of his own against Steve Johnson, but came through, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4.
In the bottom half of the draw, the No6 seed Roberto Bautista Agut had to complete his second-round match against Donald Young at the start of the schedule—and fortunately finished it off quickly, 6-4, 6-2—but then came back to play the formidable big-serving Canadian, No3 seed Milos Raonic.
It would prove a step too far for the Spaniard, for although he had pressured Raonic in their previous three matches, he found it hard to get a foothold, especially after a brief rain delay, against the Canadian. Raonic hit 19 aces to race through in an hour of play, 6-1, 6-4.
The last semi-finalist would be determined by the late-starting contest between Bernard Tomic and Gilles Muller—weather and light permitting.