Britain will have three men in the Australian Open for the first time since 2002 after Kyle Edmund produced a superb battling performance on Saturday to secure his debut in the main draw.
Beverley’s Edmund came from a set down against local favourite Dane Propoggia to win 6-7 (3/7) 6-4 9-7, but compatriot Liam Broady fell at the final hurdle as he lost in straight sets to American veteran Michael Russell in the last round of qualifying.
British number three Edmund joins James Ward and Andy Murray in the tournament proper and faces American Steve Johnson - the world number 39 - on Tuesday. The last time Britain had such strength in depth was courtesy of Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski and Martin Lee 13 years ago.
Edmund, who is ranked 192nd in the world, took until midway through the second set to force a break point against Propoggia, who was playing far better than his ranking of 323 would suggest.
But after breaking in the 10th game to claim the set, the 20-year-old from Yorkshire broke again in the decider and served for the match at 5-3, only to lose his serve and allow Propoggia back into the contest.
Edmund still had the advantage of serving first however and recovered his composure to break again and seal victory in two hours and 23 minutes.
“It is good confidence coming through grand slam qualies, you have earned your right to get into a grand slam which is a great feeling and gives you confidence going into the upcoming tournaments,” said Edmund, who turned 20 on January 8 and spent his present of iTunes vouchers on acclaimed TV drama Breaking Bad.
“You are always looking to improve, that’s what I want to keep doing. It’s a good start to the year but that’s all it is, the year is full of ups and downs so you can’t get too up on the results.”
Edmund and Ward have both benefited from spending time with Murray during his winter training sessions and Edmund added: “I don’’t know how much you guys (the media) see of it but he really wants guys like me and Liam to do well. He’s texting to say well done and good luck and it’s a nice feeling when someone like that wants you to do well.
“Working with Andy in 2013 it was obviously a higher standard, so for me to play with him I was having to work really hard to win points. This year when I went back and played with him I felt a lot more comfortable with the balance and speed of play. I felt a good improvement from that year which is what you want.”
On an adjacent court at Melbourne Park, Broady lost 7-5 6-3 to veteran Russell, the 36-year-old using all of his experience to win each set with a single break of serve.
“You can’t play great every day,” Broady said. “I felt pretty relaxed, pretty loose, but he played quite smart, used his slice well and obviously he’s very experienced and knew what he was doing on the court.
“I just lost a bit of rhythm and he’s a very smart, very experienced player and it showed today. It’s tough to rush Mike because he defends very well. When I play eight out of 10 at this level it’s good enough, but my six out of 10 isn’t good enough yet and that’s what needs to improve.”