Cometh the hour, cometh the man. And Kyle Edmund’s hour cometh at 1:30 sharp, local time, this afternoon at the Flanders Expo.
Untried, untested and still only 20 years old, Edmund will open the Davis Cup final and try to get Britain’s first point on the board when he takes on David Goffin.
The ultimate goal is obviously to put the point on the boardKyle Edmund
The Yorkshireman got the nod as Britain’s second singles player over the more experienced James Ward on account of his recent clay court form – he won the Buenos Aires Challenger 12 days ago – and no matter that he has never played a Davis Cup match before, Britain’s captain, Leon Smith, was ready to put his faith in the new boy. “I think that it was always going to be a difficult decision who started the weekend,” Smith said.
“The good thing that coincided with this tie was that the No 2 singles players had all come into good form. James won a challenger in India, Kyle had won a challenger in South America. It was actually a really good situation to be in. I think where Kyle’s ranking sits now, and he’s very comfortable on this surface, is why we’re starting that way. But it was still a very difficult decision.”
Even though he has never been selected to play before, Edmund has been a part of the Davis Cup set-up for a couple of years. He has been involved as a hitting partner and overall squad member since Britain beat Russia in Coventry in the Euro-Africa Zone, Group I tie in 2013. Soaking up the atmosphere and trying to gain as much experience as he could, he has worked his way into contention as his ranking has moved upwards. As he sat on the team bench watching his elders and betters beat Russia, he was ranked outside the world’s top 500. By the end of that year he was up to No 376 and today he stands as the world’s No 100 and is about to play the biggest match of his life. “This is definitely going to be the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of,” Edmund said. “Probably the biggest occasion. The experience I’ve had close to that is probably at the French Open in my first round when I played a French guy in front of a loud French crowd. That’s my experience in that regard.
“But, yeah, this will definitely be louder, a lot more people watching. It a new experience for me. It’s something I’m going to have to learn as I go through the match. But it’s a good problem and it’s exciting.
“Obviously for myself personally, it’s my first match of the Davis Cup for my country. It’s exciting itself, the fact it’s a final. At the same time it’s a team event and the team comes first. My job is to give my best and give my all. The ultimate goal is obviously to put the point on the board for Great Britain.”
Getting that point will not be easy – five men before Edmund have made their Davis Cup debuts in a final and yet none of them managed to win a live rubber. Asking Edmund to beat Goffin, the world No 16, may be asking too much but that is not what Smith and Andy Murray are demanding of the debutant.
“All that everyone in the team wants from each other is that we give our best effort,” Murray said last week. And cometh 1:30pm today, we will see whether that effort is enough for Edmund to claim Britain’s first point in the final.