She may be the reigning women’s singles champion, but Kirsty Gilmour knows she can take nothing for granted at this year’s Scottish Open against a field packed with world-class talent.
The Glasgow-based 25-year-old defeated Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt to finally claim the title last year, having previously suffered several near misses at her home championship.
But she will have to overcome a number of difficult challenges if she is to retain her crown – namely Chinese top seed Cai Yanyan, who she could face in a potential semi-final.
And with Chen Xiaoxin and Danish star Line Kjaersfeldt in the other half of the draw, Gilmour admits she will need to bring her A game to the Emirates Arena to come out on top again.
“Winning it last year was massive, it was a massive weight off my shoulders as I had played it nine times – I’ve been playing since I was 15,” said the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist.
“You never expect to win it at that age, but in the last few years – since I was about 19 or 20 – I’ve always been in with a shout of actually winning it and to convert it last year was great.
“I’m in a position that I’ve not been in before at the Scottish Open, trying to retain my title, and it’s such a strong field this year so it’s going to be pretty difficult.
“The two Chinese players that have entered – and indeed Line [Kjaersfeldt] – have been having a really strong past couple of months so it’s going to be tough.
“It’s surprising to see them in Glasgow, but I think that speaks to the quality of the Scottish Open and what a good event we put on – that it attracts such high-quality players.
“I’m well up for the challenge. You can’t take anything for granted, especially in front of a home crowd, it will just be a case of knocking off the rounds one by one and not getting ahead of yourself.
“It’s hard not to look that far in the draw, but you do need to take it one game at a time, one step at a time, and not think about the finals and stuff.”
Gilmour will open her campaign against England’s Georgina Bland, with a clash against Denmark’s Mette Poulsen, 2017 European bronze medallist, potentially awaiting her in the second round.
Should she beat Poulsen, Gilmour could face a potential quarter-final against Canadian sixth seed Rachel Honderich or Swiss No.1 Sabrina Jaquet before Yanyan comes into the equation.
And while Gilmour has had a mixed season to date, she hopes home advantage will help her rise to the occasion as she looks to improve her consistency at the top level.
“It’s been a pretty up and down year and I think that just speaks volumes about the quality of the standard of badminton at the minute on the world circuit,” she said.
“I know I can put in those world-beating performances, but it’s about doing it consistently and I’ve show that this year that I’ve got it and I can do it – I just have to do it over and over again.
“I haven’t quite managed to grasp that this year, but I’ve had a week off to recover and it’s given me a good lease of life in training so I’m feeling good ahead of the Scottish Open.
“It’s always an event that I look forward to just for the simple fact that it’s in my hometown, I’ve grown up in Glasgow my whole life and it’s nice to play world class badminton there.
“To be able to have your family and friends be able to come watch is a huge part of it for me, to have that immediate contact and engagement with them, it feels more of a show.
“I look forward to it coming around every year and it’s not just the friends and family, all of the supporters that come along to the Emirates Arena are always incredible.
“It helps you focus more as it means so much to you and the people closest to you, having them there rather than watching on a screen, so it’s a great event for me.”
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The Scottish Open Badminton Championships are being staged at the Emirates Arena by Badminton Scotland with support from Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council and EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.