By RJ Mitchell
Confidence Boost Makes The Difference for Rachel
Rachel Sugden has admitted that some vital information and advice helped spur her on to make a smooth journey through to the quarter-finals of the 2023 Scottish Open.
The Scotland No.2 defeated experienced Swedish international Mirjam Lindgarde 21-15, 21-13 with something to spare.
Yet it was from Mirjam’s previous encounter with Rachel’s fellow Scot Iona Muir that some vital words of wisdom helped make a difference: “Earlier on David (Gilmour) had coached Iona against Mirjam and there were a couple of little bits of information from that which were a real help,” revealed Rachel.
The Scottish Open quarter-finalist added: “But to be honest I just wanted to keep my own game at the same level from the game with Kisona (Selvaduray) in the previous round.
“So, it was just really pleasing to replicate my performance from before, retain my intensity and not drop off in terms of levels.
“Particularly I wanted to stay on the attack, keep going for my shots and I was pretty smooth in that respect as I also wasn’t as nervous as I had been in the first match.
“All of that helped”.
Rachel will now face the winner of the encounter between Spanish top seed Clara Azurmendi and Japan’s Haruna Konishi tomorrow.
A prospect she admitted will leave her doing her homework tonight: “I’ve never played Clara before but seen her play quite a few times and she is pretty tall and likes to attack, so I’d say we have similar styles, so we will both be battling it out for attacking dominance.
“Really I don’t know too much about Haruna and all of that means I have work to do tonight in terms of my analysis!”
A Bridge Too Far For Josh
Josh Apiliga found the challenge of playing five matches in two days just too much as he came up short against second seed Jan Louda going down 7-21, 12-21 in 25 minutes.
Despite his best efforts the tank was running low as the Scot’s previously sound defensive lifting game and astute shot selection deserted him in the early exchanges – and World No.47 Louda duly capitalised.
Yet having battled patellar tendinopathy of the right knee for the last two years as Josh admitted he could be rightly proud of his efforts at the Emirates over the last two days.
The 22 – year-old said: “I gave everything over the last few days and I knew there was a chance if I played my best I could maybe make the main draw and to do that and to make the second round is a real confidence booster which I now need to build on.
“so, my legs maybe didn’t feel terrible but I was just drained and I gave everything to win these three matches yesterday and then some more to get through this morning and there was just nothing left mentally and probably not a lot left in the tank physically either.
“Then when you come up against someone of the quality of Jan, who was also fresh, well it’s just so tough.
“On top of that I haven’t been on court with a player of Jan’s class in at least two years but the biggest thing I can take from it was that there was a period in the middle of the second set where I was hurting him.
“So I know I have the game with the right work behind it to compete with these guys and that is something that is a big positive for me.”
Iona’s First Scottish Open Experience
Earlier in the afternoon Iona Muir’s bid to make the second round and set up an all-Scottish meeting with Rachel came up just short after she went down 21-9, 21-17 in 28 minutes to seasoned International Challenge competitor Mirjam Lindgarde.
But for the 17-year-old this still produced a nice takeaway: “I am really inexperienced at this level and have never played someone of Mirjam’s standing before and it was just a much faster pace than I am used to.
“Mirjam moved me the entire time and was just really smart about her placement and I had no easy opportunities and I had to fight for every point. I was also just maybe a little too inconsistent but I know what to work on going forward.
“So, I enjoyed testing myself against someone of Mirjam’s quality and was pleased with how I did. But there are a lot of things I learned from my first Scottish Open and plenty to work on, so it was a positive take away for me.”