By Ros Satar
- Kyle Edmund  v Christian Garin | Garin leads H2H 1-0
- Dan Evans v Bai Yan [WC] | First Meeting
CHENGDU, CHINA – The two key players in the race to finish as the year-end British No. 1 kick off their campaigns as Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans get started in Chengdu
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Kyle Edmund  v Christian Garin | Garin leads H2H 1-0
It has been a strange old year for Kyle Edmund, the incumbent British No. 1 but for how long? Having struggled throughout the year with annoying injury niggles and the hardship of losing his coach Fredrik Rosengren, who retired rather than leaving his charge for another prospect, and the Brit has honestly looked lost at times this year.
Over the net will be Chile’s Christian Garin, who excited quite a few folks in the clay court season, reaching the final of Sao Paulo and backing that up with wins in Houston and Munich. However since then he has struggled to find that same burst of momentum.
Although he does have a win over Edmund from back in their ATP Challenger days, Edmund overall has a lot more experience, and perhaps just a little more consistency across the surfaces. For both it is their first outings since US Open exits, where Garin managed a second round while Edmund had a very disappointing first round exit.
While Edmund starts as the favourite, rustiness may play a part, so expect him to have to fight for it.
Prediction: Edmund in three sets.
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Dan Evans v Bai Yan [WC] | First Meeting
Whereas Edmund’s breakout year in last year saw him hit the dizzy heights of reaching a Slam semi-final, the story of this year has to be Dan Evans’ phoenix like rise from the ashes of his career after serving a doping ban for cocaine. The hard work and hours he put in with David Feldgate certainly paid off as he clawed his way back from just inside the World Top 200 to starting this tournament inside the Top 50. With Edmund having struggled to defend points and even string together some consistent runs outside of winning the Indian Wells Challenger, his spot just outside the Top 30 could well be at risk if Evans has another consistent run, as he did during the grass court summer.
However, Evans parted company with Feldgate citing differences of opinion, and it will be interesting to see what direction he takes now. He rejected the notion at the US Open that he needs to find a top level coach, preferring to find someone that clicks for him.
He is up against Chinese wildcard Bai Yan, outside the Top 200 and although he may have the home crowd behind him, will lack the experience that Evans will bring to the court. Even allowing for this shift in his coaching situation, it would have to be an exceedingly bad day at the office for Evans not to get off to a winning start.
Prediction: Evans in straight sets.
Edmund and Garin are scheduled on Centre Court at 1pm (6am BST), Evans and Bai are scheduled not before 4:30pm (9:30am BST).
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