Fatherhood has changed the priorities of Rajiv Ouseph, but the Hounslow badminton star vows he will return to the Scottish Open again for another shot at claiming a hat-trick of titles.
The 32-year-old’s attempt to win the championship for a third time was ended at the semi-final stage as he was beaten by China’s Liu Haichao at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.
Ouseph, a five-time Commonwealth Games medallist, had previously claimed the men’s singles title in 2008 and 2011 but he came up short against the eventual champion, 21-13 8-21 19-21.
And while the Londoner was disappointed to miss out on the final, he admitted he took plenty of encouragement from getting more competitive matches under his belt.
The Olympian and his wife Kate welcomed a newborn boy, Zach, into the world in September and he said it has, understandably, had an impact on his schedule over the last few months.
“I’ve not had too many matches since I had a little boy eight weeks ago and that kind of changes things a little bit in terms of training and things like that,” he said.
“I’ve been a bit down on match practice, but in my last two tournaments I’ve had nine games so for me that is quite good so it’s just about trying to rack up those games and get back to match speed.
“There has been a few sleepless nights, but he’s been very good generally so I can’t complain too much about that, it’s just a very big change from being just the two of us.
“I’m definitely looking to come back next year. It’s always nice to come back here and it’s not often you get a good quality tournament close to us.
“We have the all-England but this is another one and it will definitely be an even stronger field next year with it being Olympic qualifying so I would just look to see how well I’d do again.”
The five-time European medallist, who is the top ranked home nations player at world number 35, had a bye in the first round before getting his campaign underway against qualifier Ivan Rusev.
Ouseph sealed his place in the next round with a comfortable 21-15 21-12 victory over the Bulgarian, before seeing off Denmark’s Kim Bruun in the last 16 with a 21-18 21-13 win.
He then had to dig deep in the quarter-final to dispatch Frenchman Lucas Corvee, winning 17-21 21-14 21-15 to reach the last four, but he had no answer for unseeded Haichao.
And even though a drift in the Emirates Arena caused Ouseph problems in the second set, he felt he had turned it around against his Chinese opponent after making a tactical change.
“It was a tough one but I started well in the first game and then I ended up struggling a lot in the second game so I kind of tactically tried to take a break and go again in the third,” he said.
“I wanted to see if that worked out and it did to an extent, I just kind of gave him a little bit too much of a lead in the third set and to his credit he played the crucial points quite well.
“It was just the drift on that side of the court in the second that caused me to struggle, it was very difficult to lift and it made it a lot easier for him – like it was for me in the first set.
“It was just a little bit tricky to play the same style on both sides and I just needed to change a little bit, but getting to the semi-finals is not too bad so I can take a few positives from that.
“I’m happy but there I could have definitely won the semi-final and that gives you a chance at silverware in the final, but it’s just getting matches under my belt.”
Ouseph’s work for the year is not done yet as he will be in action in the Mixed Team European Championship qualifiers, but he is already looking forward to a big 2019.
“We have the last team event which is the European qualifiers in Milton Keynes, which is not too far to travel for us which is good, and then I’m just looking forward to next year,” he said.
A world class field of more than 300 hundred athletes from 37 nations descended on Glasgow for the Scottish Open Badminton Championships – third oldest badminton tournament in the world.
Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European medallists fought it out over five days, from November 21-25, with the tournament boasting one of the strongest line-ups in its history.
The Scottish Open Badminton Championships are being staged at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow from November 21-25 by Badminton Scotland with support from Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council and EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. Tickets are on sale now at www.badmintonscotland.org.uk.
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