MELBOURNE (AFP) – Unseeded Kyle Edmund and Elise Mertens pulled off huge upsets to march into uncharted territory at the Australian Open yesterday as they swept into the semi-finals as Rafael Nadal hurtled out.
British star Edmund stunned third seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena to reach the last four and set up an encounter with Marin Cilic.
Mertens, who is yet to drop a set, was equally convincing in blasting past world number four Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-0 to become the first Belgian to get so far since Kim Clijsters in 2012.
Her win sets up a battle to reach the final with either second seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki or veteran Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
Bulgaria’s Dimitrov had beaten Edmund only two weeks ago in the quarter-finals at the Brisbane International, but there was no repeat.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I’m very happy,” said an overwhelmed Edmund, ranked 49 and in his first semi-final at a major.
“It was a hard match and I’m really trying to enjoy the moment. It was my first match on Rod Laver Arena and it’s very special.”
The 23-year-old is the only British man in the draw after Andy Murray’s injury withdrawal before the tournament, raising the prospect that it will be him, rather than the Scot, who breaks through to win in Australia.
Murray has been a five-time finalist, but lost them all.
World number 37 Mertens is on a hot streak of form, unbeaten in 10 matches after winning in Hobart this month.
She was too physical for Svitolina as she stormed into the semis, incredibly on her Australian Open debut.
“It’s amazing. I mean, it was not expected, especially today. Really tough match,” said the Belgian world number 37.
“But I was in the zone today. If you believe in yourself, then anything can happen. But of course semis is “Wow.”
In the late game, Cilic advanced to the semi-finals after top seed Nadal retired hurt when trailing 3-6 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2 2-0 in their match at Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal took a medical time-out late in the fourth set for treatment on an apparent hip injury and was clearly struggling as he battled on in the evening match.
After being broken to fall behind 2-0 in the fifth, Nadal called it quits, and shook hands ruefully with the chair umpire and Cilic.
Sixth seed Cilic will meet Edmund for a place in the final.