Kirsty Gilmour got her European Championship challenge off to a solid start in the Danish city of Kolding today as she booked her place in the last 16 of the women’s singles.
Last year’s silver medallist made it three wins out of three meetings against Alesia Zaitsava of Belarus with a 21-15 21-14 victory in just 34 minutes in the opening contest of day two.
Her win made up for the disappointing first-round exits of men’s singles players Kieran Merrilees in three games against Dutchman Mark Caljouw and Matthew Carder in straight games against France's Lucas Claerbout yesterday.
Merrilees went down 16-21 21-11 21-13 against Mark Caljouw, the Dutchman who also defeated him in three games in November at the Scottish Open Grand Prix.
Merrilees came back from 6-1 down in the first game to take the opener but after that Caljouw hit back by opening up a 4-1 lead in the second game and, although Merrilees won the next five points, his opponent responded and eased away from 7-7.
In the deciding game the players were locked together at 10-10 before Caljouw applied the pressure to push on for victory.
Carder was always up against it when he faced Lucas Claerbout as the higher-ranked Frenchman dominated the opening game from 4-4, helped by an 11-point charge to 15-4 on the way to taking the opener 21-8.
Carder had a glimmer of hope in the second game when he led 7-5 before Claerbout responded to lead 9-7 on his way to victory 21-16 on his first match point in this first meeting between the players.
Scotland at least had one winner on day one with Martin Campbell and Julie MacPherson through to the second round of the mixed doubles.
The Scotland pair were due to be first into the action but went through without hitting a shuttle after their Belarus opponents Uladzimir Varantsou and Krestina Silich gave them a walkover.
In Thursday’s second round they will face Danish top seeds and defending champions Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen.
Gilmour will now meet Germany’s Fabienne Deprez or Russia’s Natalia Perminova in the third round tomorrow while Denmark’s fourth seed Line Kjaersfeldt and Spain’s second seed Beatriz Corrales are likely to be waiting if she progresses to the quarter and semi-finals.
Gilmour has never lost to Deprez (3-0) and Perminova (4-0) so can go into her next match full of confidence, especially as she defeated the Russian in three games at the same stage in last year’s European Championships in France.
Against Zaitsava the 23-year-old from Bellshill made a steady start, easing away from 3-3 to take the first game at the second opportunity.
It was a closer contest in the second game with Zaitsava opening up a 9-4 advantage before Gilmour reeled off five points in a row on the way to an 11-10 lead at the mid-game interval. After that a three-point burst gave put her in a strong position and she finished the contest with another three-point flourish.
Gilmour said: “Of course, it is different to be seeded seven compared to being seeded two last year, but it can’t be any other way since I haven’t been playing too much internationally (following her knee surgery).
“It was nice to have an early start, getting used to the arena and rid of the nervousness.
“I love playing in Denmark where they know how to set up a great tournament and the crowd really appreciates the sport.
“It will probably be harder in the next round playing Fabienne or Natalia. We are the same age so I know them really well and have played them tons of times.
“As everyone else, I see this tournament as Carolina Marin against the rest of us. She is in a tough position like that, but has so many times showed to be able to handle that kind of pressure.
“First of all it was important to me not to be drawn in her half of the championships. Now my ambition is to reach the final and it is indeed possible. There is no-one in the draw I haven’t beaten before.
“Physically I am feeling really good. The Europeans are a high point in the season to me so I have been training really hard until the last few days before the tournament to be able to peak here.”
Spain’s double defending champion Marin starts her challenge tonight with a second-round match against Jordan Hart of Wales.
Scotland’s men’s and women’s doubles pairs also go into action late in the evening programme.
Martin Campbell and Patrick MacHugh meet second seeds and defending champions Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding while Julie MacPherson and Eleanor O’Donnell face another Danish pair in top seeds and defending champions Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl.
Campbell is already through to tomorrow’s mixed doubles second round with MacPherson after a walkover yesterday.
But they will also face defending champions in Pederson and Joachim Fischer Nielsen.
For all today’s results go to www.tournamentsoftware.com
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Notes to Editors
BADMINTONscotland is the governing body for the sport in Scotland and host organiser of the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 to be staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena from 21-27 August. It is Glasgow’s third World Championships following the 1997 World Championships and Sudirman Cup and the 2007 Sudirman Cup.
As part of the World Championships Legacy Programme BADMINTONscotland is committed to introducing 30,000 schoolchildren and members of youth groups to the sport as well as training umpires, line judges and coaches as part of their extensive badminton development programme.
For further information about badminton in Scotland go to www.badmintonscotland.org.uk or visit www.glasgow2017.com for more information about the TOTAL BWF World Championships.