Sixth seed Marin Cilic tipped Britain’s Kyle Edmund for a bright future after halting his fairytale run at the Australian Open.
Cilic beat Edmund, who was bidding to become only the fourth British man to reach a grand slam final in the Open Era, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 in Melbourne. He will face Roger Federer or South Korean Hyeon Chung, who meet on Friday, in Sunday’s final.
Edmund, 23, struggled with a hip problem and appeared battle-weary from his breakthrough performance at a major tournament but departs Australia with his reputation enormously enhanced.
He has also banked prize money of £497,000 – almost a third as much as he had previously earned in the rest of his career.
“He is playing great tennis,” said Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion. “The last couple of years he’s improved a lot and started great this year.
“He had an extremely tough run to the semis, a couple of five-setters and a couple of four-setters as well. Definitely it left some scars on his body. I can feel that too, but definitely he’s got a bright future in the game and we’re going to be seeing him a lot.”
Edmund, who was born in South Africa and moved to Yorkshire aged three, is still to reach his first final on the ATP Tour but will climb to a career-high position of around 25 when the rankings are updated on Monday.
Left shouldering Britain’s hopes amid the injury absence of Andy Murray and the early exit of Johanna Konta, Edmund was just one win away from overtaking his sometime mentor Murray in the rankings.
With the Scot likely to remain sidelined with his own hip injury until the summer, that changing of the guard is likely to be a matter of time.
“It’s been a really good couple of weeks for me,” he said. “Obviously I’m disappointed right now, but I can be very happy with the way I’ve gone about things. I won some tough matches, beat good players.”
World No1 Simona Halep will play Caroline Wozniacki in the women’s singles final on Saturday after the Romanian overcame Germany’s Angelique Kerber in a thriller.
Halep eventually won 6-3, 4-6, 9-7 to set up the clash with Dane Wozniacki, in which both players will be bidding not only for their first grand slam title but also for top spot in the rankings.