A HAT-TRICK of Scottish Open titles is on the cards for Hounslow badminton ace Rajiv Ouseph but he insists he’s not taking anything for granted after coming through his opening match unscathed.
The 32-year-old, 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 Bulgarian qualifier Ivan Rusev.
Ouseph sealed his place in the next round with a comfortable 21-15 21-12 victory despite being pushed hard by his opponent on his return to the event he won in 2008 and 2011.
And while the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist believes his form can take him all the way once again, he admits the tournament has a habit of throwing up upsets along the way.
“The first round coming back here is always tricky to start with, so I think I was a little bit slow to start but I worked my way into the game and it was comfortable enough in the end,” he said.
“I think I’m in good form, it’s never easy when you’re starting off and he had a game beforehand so was a bit more used to the hall, but I’m just happy to have a win under my belt.
“There are a lot of memories walking around the arena of the Commonwealth Games and previous Scottish Opens, so lots of good memories for me and I’m looking to put in a good run this week.
“I hope I can go all the way. My preparation is always to take it one game at a time and not to look too far ahead as there are a lot of good players here and it can be a tough competition.
“It’s mainly European players in the draw but there are a few Asian guys who could be quite dangerous so you need to look out for those.
“There is a lot of good players and I think it will just come down to whoever plays well and puts together a good run will come out on top at the end of the week.”
The two-time former champion last played the Scottish Open in 2015, when he narrowly missed out on the title after losing the final to Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.
While top seed Rasmus Gemke was forced to pull out ahead of the tournament due to illness, there is still a strong field in Glasgow looking to come out on top in the men’s singles.
Frenchman Brice Leverdez, the second seed, is among those with ambitions on denying Ouseph a third title as he targets a second Scottish Open crown following his victory in 2013.
Ouseph’s compatriot and the defending champion Toby Penty could also potentially stand in his way, having already progressed to the third round with a bye and a walkover.
But coming off the back of reaching the final at the SaarLorLux Open earlier this month, Ouseph is confident about his chances as long as he doesn’t take his eye off ball.
He added: “For me now there’s a lot of players younger than me, so I’ve got to watch out for these guys that are improving all the time and trying to improve their world rankings.
“It will be a very tough tournament, but I know that if I can play well it will put me in good stead and put me into the later rounds.”
A world class field of more than 300 hundred athletes from 37 nations have descended on Glasgow for the third oldest badminton tournament in the world.
Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European medallists will fight 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.
Feature image credit: Lorraine Hill/Badminton Scotland
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