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Kyle Edmund vs Mikhail Kukushkin Nature Valley International tennis live: Edmund targets first grass-court semi-final in Eastbourne

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 27 Jun 2018
  • Kyle Edmund vs Mikhail Kukushkin is live from Eastbourne around 4.00pm local time/BST on Thursday
  • First career meeting between the pair
Kyle Edmund (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Kyle Edmund aims to reach his first ATP grass-court semi-final when he takes on Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakstan in the Nature Valley International quarter-finals in Eastbourne on Thursday.


Fresh off one of his most memorable career wins over mentor Andy Murray in the previous round, second seed and British No. 1 Kyle Edmund looks to make his first grass-court semi-final on Thursday in Eastbourne against the hard-hitting Mikhail Kukushkin. Edmund is enjoying a career-best season in 2018 and is hoping to make a major impact at Wimbledon next week - but first things first, there’s an opportunity for a maiden ATP title in Eastbourne this week - and he’s more than capable of coming away with the silverware. He can’t underestimate the powerful Kukushkin however, with the Kazakh not dropping more than two games in the four sets he’s played this week. Edmund and Kukushkin take to court around 4.00pm local time/BST on Thursday.

As one of the top four seeds, Edmund received a first round bye in Eastbourne - but his first opponent came in the form of Andy Murray - the former World No. 1, two-time Wimbledon champion and a key mentor in Edmund’s development as a player over the last few years. Never mind that Murray was looking pretty good on the comeback trail from hip surgery in beating Stan Wawrinka in straight sets on Monday, this was a highly difficult match-up for Edmund to deal with, especially in front of his home fans on the lawns of Eastbourne.

But he handled the occasion superbly, producing a clinical performance as he dictated the match with his powerful forehand, prevailing by a 6-4 6-4 scoreline to advance into just his second grass-court quarter-final.

"To beat him... It sort of shows I have improved a lot. It's difficult to put it into words... To have that win definitely gives me a lot of confidence and belief," said Edmund. "I guess the mental side of that, as well, it's a tough thing... It's a nice win."

Edmund is right in that assessment. While Murray isn’t playing anywhere near to his top level, it’s the mental aspect of the contest that Edmund was able to overcome, where perhaps 12 months ago he wouldn’t have been ready for this moment. The 23-year-old has make great strides in his game over the first six months of 2018, reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open, beating Grigor Dimitrov along the way, and also finishing runner-up on the clay of Marrakech.


Injury meant that Edmund couldn’t maintain the momentum generated from his run in Melbourne as he struggled through Indian Wells and Miami, but he was solid during the clay season, reaching the Madrid Masters quarter-finals, the Round of 16 in Rome and the third round of Roland Garros to firmly establish himself inside the top 20. Currently projected to his his career-high ranking of No. 17 by making the Eastbourne quarter-finals, Edmund can actually rise to No. 12 by taking home the title this week - and given he’s the highest-ranked player left in the draw, he’s got an excellent shot of doing just that.

Mikhail Kukushkin (Photo by AFP/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Mikhail Kukushkin is enjoying one of those random runs that players of his sort of ilk go on from time to time. One of the flattest and hardest hitters of a tennis ball on tour, Kukushkin doesn’t have much margin or room for error in his game - which is why he’s never been ranked higher than No. 46 in the world at 30 years of age - but when he gets it right, there’s no question he can play top 20 tennis. But the problem for Kukushkin is that he can only get it right for a few tournaments a season - and here in Eastbourne could be one of them.

With just seven tour-level career wins on grass before this tournament, Kukushkin has been in blistering form on the Eastbourne lawns, crushing rising star Alex de Minaur 6-1 6-2 in the opening round before demolishing former World No. 3 David Ferrer 6-2 6-0 to advance into his first grass-court quarter-final. Kukushkin has however made the third round of Wimbledon before, making it to the Round of 32 in 2014 and taking a set off Rafael Nadal before succumbing in four.

With his lone ATP World Tour title coming in St. Petersburg all the way back in 2010, Kukushkin is one of those players that is consistently hanging around the 50-100 mark in the rankings, with the 30-year-old arriving at Eastbourne at No. 90 after a 7-10 record at tour-level in 2018 - although Kukushkin was able to pick up the Irving Challenger title back in March - one of the strongest Challenger events on the calendar.

Considering Kukushkin is on fire this week, it makes this first career meeting between the pair a tough one to call. Obviously Edmund is the more consistent player, but Kukushkin can match his level of play - just not as often or throughout the course of a match. Edmund does have weapons of his own though - and that extra power that de Minaur and Ferrer lack - so he will be able to match Kukushkin from the baseline. If he plays like he did against Murray, Edmund should be able to find a way to win.


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Kyle Edmund vs Mikhail Kukushkin Nature Valley International tennis live: Edmund targets first grass-court semi-final in Eastbourne

Kyle Edmund aims to reach his first ATP grass-court semi-final when he takes on Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakstan in the Nature Valley International quarter-finals in Eastbourne on Thursday.

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