Kyle Edmund withstood the Melbourne heatwave to battle into the fourth round of the Australian Open with a terrific five-set win over Nikoloz Basilashvili.
With temperatures forecast to exceed 40C in Melbourne, Edmund showed tremendous levels of both fitness and determination to recover from two sets to one down and beat his Georgian opponent 7-6 (7/0) 3-6 4-6 6-0 7-5.
The Yorkshireman suffered a lull after appearing in control at a set and a break up but a 20-minute Basilashvili service game early in the fourth set, where he finally broke, turned the match in Edmund’s favour.
He won only seven of 27 break points and made 64 unforced errors but this was a day for heart and fortitude rather than exceptional tennis, and Edmund was not found wanting.
The 23-year-old is through to the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the first time and will take on either 6ft 11in Ivo Karlovic or Italy’s Andreas Seppi for a place in his first grand slam quarter-final.
The thermometer was showing 35C when the players took to Show Court 2 at 11am. With no shade anywhere, both men knew they were in for a test of both physical and mental endurance.
Compounding matters, there was also a swirling wind that made life extremely difficult. Both players hit a number of shots off the frame while Basilashvili sent one serve off the top of his racket and into the crowd.
Edmund did not face a single break point during his second-round rout of Denis Istomin but here he dropped serve straight away.
More worryingly, he called for the trainer at the first change of ends for some manipulation on his upper back. But Basilashivili made Edmund feel better immediately by donating the break back with three straight double faults.
It was not a great set of tennis by any means but it had a quality denouement as Edmund won every point in the tie-break, finishing it off with a fine forehand winner.
He made it 10 points in a row, securing a break right at the start of the second set, and looked in control against his erratic opponent.
But slowly the energy began to seep out of the Yorkshireman and he was struggling to keep the ball in the court by the end of the set as Basilashvili reeled off five straight games.
The Georgian tried his best to let Edmund back in by double-faulting on his first two set points but the British number two was being just as generous – by the time he next won a game he was 2-0 down in the third.
Edmund’s second wind arrived and he halted the run of games against him at seven before breaking back for 3-3. But Basilashvili pounced again in the next game and soon led by two sets to one.
It was a veritable Everest for Edmund to climb in the conditions and he was not helping himself with his poor conversion rate on break points.
He had eight of them in a tortuous second game of the fourth set that lasted one second short of 20 minutes and featured eight deuces. But, crucially for Edmund, he took the final one.
Matches are decided in such moments and Basilashvili, who must have been exhausted after such a serving marathon, quickly decided to save his energy for the fifth set.
The decider was nip and tuck, with Edmund surviving a nervy moment at break point down in the eighth game. But ultimately it was Basilashvili who cracked, serving a 17th double fault to give Edmund a match point and then netting a backhand.