Scottish Open Day Two: Hammer Time for Josh!

By RJ Mitchell

JOSH APILIGA has added a fourth victory over English opposition to his impressive tally as he defeated Harry Jones 21-18, 21-16 to make the second round of the Scottish Open for the first time.

The 22-year-old is rapidly developing into the Hammer of the English after he showed real resilience to back up his fine victory over England No.3 Nadeem Dalvi in yesterday’s final round of qualifying to dispatch a tricky opponent in Harry Jones who refused to go quietly.

Apiliga also had to overcome a blister issue to his right foot which demanded an injury break with the Glaswegian leading 15-10 in the second stanza and victory within touching distance.

Reflecting on all of this Josh said: “I struggled a lot and to be fair to Harry he played unbelievable and made it tough for me.

“I was comfortable in the second set and then I could feel my toe stinging but although I struggled I got the job done, it wasn’t pretty but I got there.

“I think that’s four English players in-a-row and it’s been a lot of badminton but now I just need to recover.”

While Josh may have been slightly jaded after yesterday’s three victories and the adrenaline surge of defeating the fancied Dalvi, he stuck gamely to his task and in truth was always in the ascendancy against England’s Jones, who stayed just within touching range to make it interesting to the end.

Now the Scottish No.74 will face the Czech Republic’s No.2 seed Jan Louda later this afternoon with the pressure off as Josh admitted: “I came here and I knew my draw was tough but that the matches were winnable and now I have the No.2 seed Jan Louda and nothing to lose.

“So I will give it my best shot and see where that takes me as the pressure is off.”

However it was to be a disappointing day for Scotland No.3 James Robertson after he lost out in three sets to Austria’s Collins Valentine Filimon 23-25, 21-18, 12-21.

The big Scot got off to a flying start with his smash full of real venom but gradually Collins’ cuteness around the net took the sting from Robertson’s attack.

Although James gamely responded to the gut-wrenching set-back of losing the first set on an epic tie break by claiming the second game, the Austrian took control of the decider and ultimately made his experience at International Challenge level count.

Meanwhile in the Mixed Doubles Chris Grimley has described this morning’s first round defeat as full of positives after he and Eleanor O’Donnell lost a rollercoaster three-setter 16-21, 21-19, 11-21 to Denmark’s Rasmus Espersen and Amalie Cecilie Kudsk.

It was the Scots’ pairing’s first outing since the Scottish Nationals back in February following a niggling leg injury to Eleanor and with an appearance at the Hylo Open next month looming Chris was far from downcast.

He said: “The first three shots, especially with Espersen serving so well made it tough to get on top of the returns and that allowed them to get away in the third. It was tough but we can take plenty of positives as they are a good pair and ranked above us.

“We also haven’t played since the Nationals so all things considered it was a decent first outing back.

“So now we need to just sharpen up and spend more court time together and then hopefully we can build on this.”

Earlier there was a fine win for Adam Pringle and Rachel Andrew against the Spanish duo of Jacobo Fernandez and Paula Lopez 21-14, 11-21, 21-17 and they will now face No.1 seeds Jesper Toft and Clara Graversen from Denmark.

Jack MacGregor and Sarah Sidebottom lost out to Abbygael Harris and Brandon Hao Yap of England 21-19 in the third while Lauren Middleton and Belgian partner Senne Houthoofd were defeated in straight sets by England’s Callum Hemming and Estelle Van Leeuwen.

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