THE result may have been the one everyone expected, but Beverley’s Kyle Edmund certainly made Andy Murray battle for his last four spot at Queen’s.
Defending champion Murray fought his way into the last four courtesy of a scrappy 6-4 3-6 6-1 victory, the day after seeing off another fellow Brit, Aljaz Bedene.
Murray’s victory pits his own super coach Ivan Lendl against Croat Cilic’s famed mentor Goran Ivanisevic, with a final against Milos Raonic and his star back room man John McEnroe still in the offing.
Edmund showed exactly why on the eve of this clash Murray had tipped him to break the world’s top 20, producing a gritty performance steeped in encouraging signs for a bright future.
The 21-year-old claimed an error-strewn second set to force a decider against Murray, before the world No 2 finally reasserted his authority to ease home.
Edmund dispatched world No 18 Gilles Simon for the best win of his career in the first round at Queen’s, and can leave west London proud of his week’s work.
“I train with Kyle a lot so I know how good he is,” said Murray.
“He’s a big strong guy, a very powerful game, and when he’s on he’s very tough to play against, and I felt that in the match today.
“Obviously Kyle’s the future of the game in this country. It’s important that he’s given time to develop at his own rate, and not too much pressure is put on him.
“If he’s given time and a little bit of space to keep developing, then he can go very far.”
Murray’s clash with Edmund was the first time two Brits had met in the last eight at Queen’s since the start of the Open era, and the first anywhere since Tim Henman edged out Greg Rusedski at Adelaide in 2002.
Edmund spent pre-season with Murray at the Scot’s Miami training base, and hailed the two-time grand slam winner as “the biggest inspiration for players my age,” ahead of facing him and remained positive in defeat.
“I’m pleased with the way I played today,” said Edmund. “No one likes losing but once you reflect it’s important to take the positives. It’s been a very positive week for me. I thought I played well today but Andy’s shown why he’s so tough to beat and has been at the top of the game for so long.”
Murray quickly took his 21-year-old foe to task at the top of the tie, forcing a break in just the third game of the match. Edmund recovered to deuce from 0-40, only for Murray to complete the break with precious little fuss.
Edmund broke back immediately, with Murrray muttering to himself in frustration, but that resistance was short-lived. The world number two broke Edmund’s serve for the second time to lead 4-3, pulling off a diving backhand volley to regain control.
Just when Murray appeared in rhythm at one set to the good, Edmund popped up with a break to lead the second set 3-1.
Murray’s response was swift, converting his third break point to bring the set back on serve at 3-2.
But again Murray’s poise eluded him, a slip on the grass proving sufficient distraction to gift Edmund another break, and the 4-2 second set lead.
When Edmund held to lead the set 5-2, ending a sequence of three successive service breaks, the tussle, and the tension, raised palpably.
Murray hit back with a routine service hold, but could not drain all the momentum from Edmund, who remained calm enough to serve out and level the match.
Murray then brought all his nous to bear in a clinical final set however, claiming two-straight breaks before closing out the win.