MELBOURNE • Kyle Edmund discovered to his cost yesterday that Marin Cilic is no longer the mentally fragile player who collapsed against Andy Murray on the same court and at the same stage in 2010.
Nonetheless, he takes his leave from the Australian Open a dignified if bruised young loser.
Cilic, more robust physically and mentally than when Murray outlasted him in four sets in the semi-final then, ground down his limping adversary over 2hr 18min to win 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 to advance to the Melbourne final for the first time.
The sixth-seeded Croat was relentless under the lights at the Rod Laver Arena, unleashing 32 winners to end world No. 49 Edmund's dream run.
It was a match too far for the Briton, who upset world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 11 Kevin Anderson en route to his first Australian Open semi-final - his best showing at a Grand Slam event.
He had to take a medical time-out after losing the first set and hobbled through the latter part of the match before surrendering meekly after a massive serve from his rangy opponent.
Cilic, 29, said courtside that he spotted Edmund, 23, struggling towards the end.
"I noticed in the third game of the third set when I broke him, he let a couple of balls go," he said.
MELBOURNE PARK SNIPPETS
STAT OF THE DAY
Games played by Simona Halep en route to the final - the most by a women's No. 1 seed entering a Grand Slam final in the Open era.
TENNIS NOT A LOTTERY
I went to the casino here, won a couple hundred dollars... But no, I don't believe in luck.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI, believes in preparation and effort going into tomorrow's final against Simona Halep.
"I was seeing he was a bit restricted and I tried to move him around. He's playing great tennis.
"But he played a couple of tough five-setters and a four-setter here, and definitely it left some scars on his body. But he has a bright future and we will see him around a lot."
Cilic will be only the second player outside the Big Four of Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to reach the Melbourne final since Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008.
It will be the third major final for 2014 US Open champion Cilic, who beat Federer in the last four en route to his maiden Grand Slam title.
He lost to Federer in last year's Wimbledon final and could meet him again, should the defending champion prevail today against South Korean giant-killer Chung Hyeon. Cilic trails Federer 8-1, but leads the unseeded Chung 3-0 in their meetings.
"Roger is always looking to play extremely aggressive," said Cilic. "But I think with my own game, if I'm playing aggressive, I can match him. Obviously it's difficult if you're running around and he's controlling things.
"Chung played a few extremely great matches here, a great run. The courts suit him. It's amazing to watch him and great to see him coming up."
In the women's draw, Simona Halep came through a thriller against 2016 champion Angelique Kerber to set up a winner-takes-all final against Caroline Wozniacki - with the duo chasing a maiden Slam title and the No. 1 ranking.
The Romanian top seed battled past Kerber 6-3, 4-6, 9-7 and now faces the second seed, who beat her on the way to winning the WTA Finals in Singapore last year.
Wozniacki beat unseeded Belgian Elise Mertens 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) after a late wobble when she was broken serving for the match at 5-4.
"Halep, just like me, was down match points early on in the tournament," said the Dane. "I could have been home already. But now I'm here and I fought my way all the way to the finals. I'm just really proud of that."
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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