Gilmour aiming to tick Scottish Open Grand Prix title off bucket list
Kirsty Gilmour has settled for silver often enough in Glasgow’s Emirates Arena and now only gold will do for the women’s top seed.
Gilmour has finished as runner-up of the Scottish Open Grand Prix, held in the arena, twice from 2013 to 2015 and squeezed in a Commonwealth silver in Glasgow during that period too.
Away from Scotland, the 24-year-old occupied the second step of the podium at the last two European Championships, successes which sandwiched a knee operation in October 2016.
Though these achievements form an admirable badminton CV, Gilmour admits Grand Prix gold on home turf is something she is determined to add to her resumé.
“By the end of my career, if I can say I’ve won the Scottish Open, especially because it’s a Grand Prix event now, it will be one off the bucket list,” she said.
“I’ve come close so many times – I’ve been in the final twice and the semi-final once – so I just need to learn from that.
“It’s always been a case of not quite, but I’m going to take it game-by-game and hopefully all those good performances will mount up.
“It’s nice to have a bit of pressure and be the top seed, it will make me focus and concentrate that little bit harder.
“The Scottish Open is one that really matters to me so I’m just looking forward to getting started.”
After missing last year’s Scottish Open due to her knee injury, Gilmour’s most recent outing at the Emirates Arena came in August’s TOTAL BWF World Championships.
The Scot had a stellar run to the quarter-finals, where she lost to India’s Saina Nehwal, and she knows her extensive experience of the venue could help her when she takes to the courts again on November 22.
“To have those memories of the World Championships so fresh in my mind will definitely make a big difference,” she added.
“This must be the seventh time I’m going to have competed in the Emirates Arena, it’s a hall I love to play in and a hall I know pretty well.
“Of all the players coming to the tournament, I think I’ve definitely played the most matches in that hall so I’m hoping to use that to my advantage.
“I’ve got a lot of high-pressure experience in that environment so I’m going to take all those experiences, good and bad, and put them to good use.
“I’m really excited to play in front of a home crowd again, I’m quite spoiled on that front.”
Fontaine Wright relishing the opportunity to play in Britain
The opportunity to play elite tournaments on home soil is a rarity for British players, but the Scottish Open Grand Prix will mark Fontaine Wright’s third in a year and she simply cannot wait.
Wright – née Chapman – played at both the YONEX All England and the TOTAL BWF World Championships this year, and will return to Glasgow for next week’s Scottish Open at the Emirates Arena.
It’s a tournament in which the 27-year-old feels right at home, having reached the quarter-finals of the women’s singles in 2013 and the second round every year since.
But England’s Wright has hardly had ideal preparation in the lead up, struck down with a knee injury in the summer from which she is still returning to the form that saw her narrowly miss out on a medal at April’s European Championships.
She will take to the court among a stacked women’s singles field – including Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour – and following her first round exit at August’s World Championships, Wright is keen to show what she can do.
“For me, the World Championships wasn’t my greatest performance because of my knee injury and a few other things going on,” she said.
“I know that I can perform quite well up there, so now it’s a case of getting the training in, getting myself back to the way I played at the Europeans – hopefully I can do that in time!
“Each time I’m playing, each time I’m competing, it is getting better so I am slowly getting there, it’s just taking a little longer than I’d hoped for.
“Women’s singles is tough, you’re never going to get an easy first or second round – you’re going to have to fight for every match.
“I have always had the mentality that if you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.
“I’m looking forward to actually just getting out there and hopefully getting through the rounds so I can compete and give these players a good run around.”
Badminton players spend much of the year living out of a suitcase, travelling to all corners of the globe playing the sport they love.
But for most, there’s no place like home, and Wright insists there is nothing quite like a British crowd.
“It’s always really special to perform in Britain because you get that home support,” she said.
“You get that feeling that the crowd want you to do well, and especially in Scotland, they always do really well in bringing in big crowds and getting schoolkids involved so it’s always very noisy.
“It also gets you used to feeling a little bit of pressure. You don’t necessarily get that playing abroad and you don’t have to worry about everything else going on.
“There’s a little bit more expectation on you when competing at home, but I think that is a good thing, especially as it is such a rarity for us Brits to have that.
“Having three tournaments on British soil in one year, we’re quite lucky!”
Beatriz Corrales excited about the passionate Scottish crowds
Hailing from the outskirts of Madrid, you might think the biting chill of a Scottish November could put badminton star Beatriz Corrales off her stride.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Not only is the 24-year-old relishing the chance to compete in front of the passionate crowds at the Scottish Open Grand Prix, she is determined to go all the way after coming so close in the past.
Corrales lost out in the women’s singles final in 2014, with Japanese shuttler Sayaka Sato powering to a 21-18 21-9 victory on the night.
But Corrales is a different player than the beaten finalist who had to settle for silver three years ago. She has matured even more and has a Grand Prix title under her belt – the 2016 Brazil Open.
The Spaniard has now set her sights on Glasgow and admitted lifting the trophy at the Emirates Arena would be a moment to cherish.
“Of course, I am looking forward to competing at the Scottish Open because it’s an amazing competition,” she said.
“It’s always a pleasure to play with this kind of atmosphere. That’s why I have really good memories from this tournament – I always look forward to playing here.
“In 2014, I had the opportunity to play the final – for me the next step will be to win the tournament.
“It’s going to be important because a few other players will probably want to win the competition. I must play match by match and winning the tournament could be amazing.”
Corrales’ experiences of competing in the UK includes encounters both on and off the court which will live long in her memory – one chat with a figure well-known to British badminton fans sticking in her mind.
“One really good moment was in 2014 when I was playing in the final – before the final I got the opportunity to chat with Gail Emms,” added Corrales.
“She has been an amazing mixed player and I don’t have to explain everything that she achieved. She’s a really good example for us and it was a special moment for me.”
In her own words, Glasgow glory would be the next step for Corrales, who is also hoping success in Scotland can be a catalyst for serious challenges in other major competitions later in the season.
One she has on her radar in particular is April’s European Championships set to be staged in Huelva, in her native Spain.
“The Scottish Open will be another test we have during the whole season before the main goals of the European and World Championships,” Corrales added.
“We want to keep the same high level and keep my best performances on court – that’s the most important thing for us right now.
“It’s really good motivation, being close to my family, my friends and my people, we know the way to reach this kind of challenge.
“I’m in a good place right now - I’ve been playing in a good way, I’m still growing up and working on my game and making the best I can do.”
The Scottish Open Grand Prix is being staged at the Emirates Arena by BADMINTONscotland with support from Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council and EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
Tickets are on sale now