At the Australian Open two years ago Johanna Konta finally made the breakthrough that had been predicted for Britain's best female tennis player for many years. The Sydney-born right-hander reached the semi-final, beating Venus Williams along the way, before losing to eventual champion Angelique Kerber. It was a springboard which launched her to the Wimbledon semi-finals last year, although we are yet to see if she can end Britain's 41-year wait for a women's grand slam champion.

Britain's even longer 76-year wait for a male major champion was, of course, ended by Andy Murray at the US Open in 2012. Wimbledon triumph followed shortly afterwards, but now the Scotsman is showing worrying signs of sporting disintegration. The 30-year-old missed much of last season and the start of this year through a long-term hip injury followed by surgery.

Step forward Kyle Edmund. The South African-born, Yorkshire-bred player became only the sixth British man to contest a grand slam semi-final after stunning the world number three Grigor Dimitrov in four sets in Melbourne in what was quite possibly the most salmon-pink-coloured tennis match ever.

Disappointingly Edmund's journey has ended in straight sets at the hands of Marin Čilić in Thursday's [25 February] semi-final. This is no disgrace given that Čilić won the US Open in 2014 and was last year's Wimbledon runner up.

As with Konta, the question for Edmund is whether he can kick on and become a serious challenger? The omens are encouraging. Despite his relatively low profile the 23-year-old is already a Davis Cup winner. It was just that his efforts – on his Davis Cup debut – were overshadowed by Murray playing a role in all three victorious rubbers in the final against Belgium in Ghent in 2015.

Last year, Edmund's most notable success may also have been an appearance in a Davis Cup tie, but not necessarily for the right reasons: winning his singles match in the first round tie against Canada when teenage opponent Denis Shapovalov was disqualified for hitting the umpire in the eye with a ball hit out of frustration.

But buoyed by his Australian Open efforts could this be Edmund's year? The next major, the French Open, is on his favourite surface, clay. And then comes Wimbledon where almost anything is possible in front a partisan home crowd.

As LTA coach Martin Weston said: "Kyle was fearless from a very early age. He always wanted to play aggressive tennis and to hit lots of winners. He was never deterred when he lost. People sometimes say he is introverted off the court, but behind the quietness there is a hell of lot of steel."

Murray has already recognised that Edmund, who moved to England when he was just three years old, is potentially the future of British tennis. When he was just a teenager Edmund, and several other British hopefuls, were invited to Murray's Miami training camp. The newly installed top 30 player says he learned a lot from the experience, while he and the British number one have become friends.

Tennis is at a crossroads, some would even say it is at a crisis point. The champions who have thrilled and enthralled thus far this century cannot keep on going forever – as symbolized by Rafael Nadal's sad quarter final withdrawal in Melbourne.

The sport reached this juncture several years ago and yet in 2017 it was still Nadal and Roger Federer who won all of the sport's grand slam titles. None of the next generation has yet truly staked a claim to succeed Nadal and Federer. The supposed beneficiaries of their theoretical decline were to be Novak Djokovic and Murray, but they have both reached their 30s and seem as fragile, if not more so, as the elder statesmen.

Čilić now has a chance to win his second major – he is the first Croatian to reach an Australian Open final – but is already 29. Stan Wawrinka has won three grand slams in the last three years but he is 32 years old and too showing signs of slowing down.

Edmund's Australian dream may be over, but at least he has provided hope for Britain at a time when Murray is sidelined and Konta – thanks to her second round exit – are badly out of form. He has the opportunity to step into even bigger shoes if he can keep on improving and, if fit, will travel to Marbella for the Davis Cup against Spain as Great Britain's leading player.

That alone is praise indeed.

Andy Murray
Is Murray on the brink of being dethroned as Britain's main man? Getty Images