MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Kyle Edmund has the most destructive forehand in tennis and it can power him into the world’s top 10, according to three-times Australian Open champion Mats Wilander.
The 23-year-old Britain used his favourite weapon to devastating effect on Tuesday to subdue world number three Grigor Dimitrov and reach the semi-finals in Melbourne.
Edmund rifled away 18 clean forehand winners, taking his tournament total on the stroke to 127, but even when Dimitrov did retrieve it there was usually more punishment to come.
“It’s an unbelievable weapon,” Wilander, who got a close-up view of Edmund’s hammer while working as a commentator for Eurosport, told Reuters.
”It’s as good as anyone‘s. Actually I would say it’s the best forehand in the game. You can most probably push him to make mistakes but in terms of when he has time, for sure it’s the best forehand in the world.
“In terms of hitting winners off a sitting duck in the middle of the court there is no one even close. (Juan Martin) Del Potro maybe, but Kyle has more wrist snap goes both ways.”
Wilander insists 49th-ranked Edmund is no one-trick pony, though, as he showed during his 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory to become only the sixth British player to reach a grand slam semi-final in the professional era.
“What really impressed me is that even with that weapon he still did other things, he hit the backhand hard and came to the net too, I thought it was a brilliant performance,” Wilander said.
Edmund is not the only young gun to impress Wilander in Melbourne. South Korean Chung Hyeon, 21, could join Edmund in the semi-finals if he beats American surprise package Tennys Sandgren on Wednesday.
Chung ground down six-times Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets on Monday with a sensational display of counter-punching tennis reminiscent of the Serb at his best.
”He was excellent, a great mover,“ Wilander said. ”It’s frightening that the way he moves is reminiscent of Djokovic at his best but somehow it’s more intimidating.
”He is thick-set, it must be intimidating to play against him. But he has a serve like mine! There is so much room for improvement. The most important shot in men’s tennis he is still a five out of 10. That’s a scary thought for the others.
“He is doing all this without being a threat in his service games, but he’s learnt to play the game around not having a great serve. We knew about (Alexander) Zverev and (Nick) Kyrgios, but now Chung has presented himself and it’s like ‘wait we forgot about this guy, he’s much better than we realised’.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond