MELBOURNE: Marin Cilic dominated British hope Kyle Edmund in straight sets to become the first Croatian to reach the final of the Australian Open on Thursday.
The world No.6 powered into his third Grand Slam decider with a 6-2, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 win in 2hr 18min on Rod Laver Arena over the unseeded Edmund to be the first man into Sunday’s final.
He will face either defending champion Roger Federer or unseeded South Korean Chung Hyeon, who play on Friday.
“Overall I’m feeling really good,” Cilic said. “Now I have two days off before the final.
“I’m quite happy with the performance. Obviously when playing in the semi-finals when there is a lot at stake and not losing a serve during the match is big.
“I’m feeling really good physically, even though I had few matches that went more than three hours. I think I’ve played a great tournament so far.”
It was an emphatic performance by the 2014 US Open champion, who broke Edmund’s serve four times and nullified the Briton’s powerful forehand.
The victory ensured that Cilic will rise to a career-high of three when the new rankings come out on Monday.
Cilic will alsobe only the second player outside the ‘Big Four’ of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Federer to reach the Melbourne final since Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008 decider.
He lost to Federer in last year’s Wimbledon final, but beat the 19-time Grand Slam champion in the semi-finals on the way to his US Open triumph.
Cilic trails the Swiss ace 8-1, but leads Chung 3-0 in their meetings.
It was a match too far for 23-year-old Edmund, who upset world No.3 Grigor Dimitrov and world No.11 Kevin Anderson on the way to his first Grand Slam semi-final, but had little left in the tank.
Edmund would not divulge the injury which forced him to take a medical timeout off the court early in the second set and restricted his movement.
“There’s something, but whatever. It’s unfortunate it happens. I’m definitely disappointed about it, it’s one of those things where I have to look at the whole week,” Edmund said.
“Making the semi-finals of a Grand Slam is definitely something that I can be very happy with and really take forward.”
Cilic’s quick returns kept Edmund on the defensive and the Croatian broke through in the sixth game when a net cord bounced out.
The Croatian attacked Edmund’s backhand and kept away from his forehand weapon and came up with a second break with a forehand to the corner for the opening set.
Edmund left the court for a medical timeout and fought off break point in the fourth game of the second set.
At one point he became furious with umpire John Blom for awarding a point rather than replaying and ruling that it had not put the Briton off playing the shot.
Games went with service but the Croatian was too strong in the tiebreaker, getting to three set points and taking a two sets to love lead with a backhand winner.
Cilic broke in the third game of the final set to take a firm grip as Edmund dropped his head.
It got no better as flagging Edmund hit a backhand wide on break point to drop serve again in the seventh game to leave Cilic with the task of serving out for victory.
Despite losing it was a breakthrough tournament for Edmund, the only British man in this year’s field after five-time finalist Andy Murray’s injury withdrawal.
He became only the fourth British man to reach the Australian Open semi-finals in the post-1968 Open Era.--AFP