Seventh seed Merrilees leads Spain challenge

KIERAN MERRILEES, the five-times Yonex Scottish National men’s singles champion, spearheads the seven-strong challenge at the Spanish International, which begins on Thursday in Madrid.

And the No. 7 seed starts his bid with a tasty clash against India’s two-time Scottish Open champion Anand Pawar.

There is little to choose between them in the world rankings with Merrilees at No. 71 and Pawar at No. 75. But the Glasgow man has lost their previous two meetings at the 2015 Scottish Open and the 2008 Yonex Hungarian International. In fact, Merrilees has yet to take a game off Pawar.

Merrilees is joined in Madrid by men’s doubles pairs Adam Hall and Alex Dunn and Martin Campbell and Patrick MacHugh as well as women’s doubles pair Julie MacPherson and Eleanor O’Donnell.

Dunn and Hall have received a first-round bye and will then face a pair from the qualifying competition in the second round while Campbell and MacHugh face the Japanese pair of Keiichiro Matsui and Yoshinopi Takeuchi on Friday afternoon.

Dunn and Hall are on course to meet Belgian third seeds Matijs Dierickx and Freek Golinski in a top half of the draw which has already seen the withdrawal of top seeds Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis, the Olympic bronze medallists.

MacPherson and O’Donnell face a tricky opening test against England rivals Chloe Birch and Jess Pugh with the winners going on to face Denmark’s top seeds Julie Finn Ipsen and Rikke Søby.

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