French Open 2023 Preview: Kirsty Gilmour

By RJ Mitchell

KIRSTY GILMOUR is hoping to make the most of the luck of the draw when she takes to the court in Rennes for the Yonex French Open.

After a tough sequence of first round match-ups in her last couple of tournaments, the Scottish No.1 was set to face World No.1 An Se Young in the HSBC BWF World Tour Super 750 event however the Korean ace has withdrawn with injury and Kirsty will now face a qualifier.

Reflecting on this, the World No.28 is well aware that whoever she will play ‘en France’, only her best will suffice.

Kirsty shared: “I’ve been fairly unlucky with my draws but I am playing some fairly good badminton and I’m really happy with my level. It is just that I happen to keep drawing top-12 badminton players in the first round!

“So when I saw the draw for the French I thought the tournament software gods were at it again as this time I had drawn An Se Young! But she is injured and is not playing, so I will have to await a new opponent from the reserve list.

“Now I know that whoever that will be it will be tough but obviously not at the level of possibly the best player of this generation.

“That said, my second round match could be (Pornpawee) Chochuwong so such is life and I just need to take it as it comes as I have confidence from the match I played against her in Finland at the Arctic.”

Looking back over her last two outings at the Arctic and Denmark Open’s, Kirsty admits that although the cards have not fallen for her as she had hoped, there have still been plenty of positives to take.

The Scottish No.1 said: “Looking at it from the perspective of where these guys have got to in the rest of the tournament then I am right there.

“At the Arctic Pornpawee Chochuwong (sixth seed, lost 18-21, 16-21) made the semis and I got a really good start and had the initiative, as I have had in all my games, so I don’t feel like I am being run ragged by these players and I feel like I am charge with a lot of it.

“Then at the Denmark Open I lost over three sets to Sindhu of India (14-21, 21-18, 10-21) and then I was watching her play Carolina Marin in the semi and pushing her all the way in another three-setter.

“So I went three sets with Sindhu and I just feel like I am so close to getting these players and that is keeping me very motivated.

“Of course I want to be playing these top players to get these experiences but I’d like to get them in the second rounds and quarter-finals. That said I am happy with my level and I just wish I could get a break with the tournament software gods and maybe that has happened this week!

“First round losses are hard to take but hopefully my luck has turned.”

Kirsty has continued her collaboration with former three-time All England women’s singles champ Tine Baun and has no doubt of the benefits and progress being made “It’s so nice to be able to chat with a women’s singles player and not be needing to come up with examples of how I feel about things” explained Kirsty.

She continued: “Tine understands straight away and she can give me solutions based on her experiences, so it is a really nice relationship so far.

“We talk a lot about on court and the whole badminton aspect of it but we also talk about off court and getting the balance and how do you step into these performance spaces and then step back out and be a normal person and not go insane in the process.

“But this run of four tournaments in October and then with the European Tour in March as well, they are difficult to try and bounce between home and away and they are challenging little periods.

“When you are in Asia and on the other side of the world you can really step away and be there but on these runs in Europe you are really close to home and if you lose you are asking yourself: ‘Should I go home?’ so that can be difficult.

“So we talk a lot about badminton stuff but also life stuff and it is working very well.”

Reflecting on her decision not to compete at the Scottish Open this year, Kirsty, who is a two-time ‘SO’ winner, has no doubt it was the right call to make: “The Scottish Open was great and it was nice to be around it and see it from a different perspective as it is can be quite overwhelming from a home player point of view.

“But it was the right decision for me not to play it as it didn’t fit with the schedule and it was also nice to see some of the younger players in the national team getting this type of exposure as the standard was pretty high this year.

“It is always a really well run tournament and it was good to be a part of it from the outside and just enjoy it without the expectation and I thought it worked really well in the sports halls at the Emirates Arena.”

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