By Ros Satar
- Dan Evans def. Bai Yin [WC] 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4)
- Evans to face No. 4 seed Grigor Dimitrov
- Christian Garin def. Kyle Edmund 6-3, 6-2
CHENGDU, CHINA – The opening day brought mixed fortunes as a rusty Kyle Edmund bowed out in straight sets, while the Chinese No. 1 took Dan Evans the distance.
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Dan Evans def. Bai Yin [WC] 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4)
While Dan Evans is looking very much like he could make a run for the British No. 1 spot by the end of the season, he was taken the distance by the Chinese No. 1 Bai Yin, ranked 174 places behind him (World No. 222). While Chinese women continue to be a strong factor in the WTA rankings, Chinese men are lagging far behind, but the level of fight in front of his home crowd saw Evans guts out a win with perhaps not the prettiest tennis on show.
Despite being broken early in the first set Bai had a chance to break back in what turned out to be a competitive set, before Evans closed out the first set. The Chinese player stayed toe-to-toe with Evans in the second set, and this time was able to convert his chance at the end of the set to level the match.
Things were a little more nervy in the decider with Bai boosting Chinese hopes of a win by breaking Evans twice, but each time the Brit broke straight back, as he hung on to force a tie-break. Again momentum switched back and force, but it was Evans who finished with a spring and two straight mini-breaks for a spot in the second round.
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Evans v Grigor Dimitrov  | H2H tied at 1-1
The ever-increasing rollercoaster of Grigor Dimitrov’s form sees the Bulgarian on an upswing. Having had no back to back wins since reaching the third round of the French Open, Dimitrov seemed to soar at the US Open, beating Roger Federer in a five-set battle in the quarter-final before falling to the man of the autumn season, Daniil Medvedev.
That run alone catapulted Dimitrov from No. 78 in the world to back inside the Top 30. While Evans’ comeback has seen steady progress back into the Top 50, he faces the potential flair of Dimitrov for the third time and might take some comfort that he got the last win against the Bulgarian.
We are expecting a battle of the single-handed backhands in what will effectively be a straight out slugging match between two aggressive baseliners who can both move well. Evans can defend well but might need to throw in as much variety as he can to move Dimitrov around. He will come in rusty as most players are returning to the tour for the first time since the US Open, while Edmund has at least a match in his legs, albeit quite the battle.
Evans can certainly make this hard for Dimitrov, but perhaps the US Open momentum will help Dimitrov make a push at the end of the season.
Prediction: Dimitrov in three sets.
Christian Garin def. Kyle Edmund  6-3, 6-2
It was a very disappointing first outing for Kyle Edmund since his five-set exit in the first round of the US Open, and leaves the Brit now on a four match losing streak at the moment.
It started promisingly enough with an early break for the Brit but found himself not only pegged back immediately, but broken straight after by Christian Garin. With the first set in the bag Garin pressed again, breaking Edmund twice in succession and from that point he could not gain any real momentum of his own.
Edmund has semi-final points to defend in Beijing and quarter-final points in Shanghai and could keep Evans at bay, who is in the qualifying rounds for both those tournament.
Evans and Dimitrov are scheduled on Centre Court at 1pm (6am BST).
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