Tuesday 22 August 2017
The result may not have gone in his favour, but nothing could be taken away from a TOTAL BWF World Championships experience Kieran Merrilees will struggle to forget.
The home favourite was greeted by plenty of support in Glasgow’s Emirates Arena, and with a five-time world champion in Lin Dan on the other side of the net, it was always going to be a day to remember.
Though the 21-15 21-10 scoreline may not reflect it, this was a day from which Merrilees will take home plenty, including a big-game experience that will stand him in good stead for the future.
There was delight for England’s Raj Ouseph however, securing his place in the second round courtesy of victory over Adam Mendrek.
The current European champion is seeded 16th for this event, and looked every bit worth his ranking in the 21-15 21-13 victory late on day one.
“I’m quite happy, it’s nice to get a good comfortable win at the start of the tournament and avoid any casualties or slip ups - it’s good for me to get a solid win under my belt,” said Ouseph.
“It’s always nervous starting a World Championships, especially a home championships, but once I got on court the nerves went and I just tried to enjoy the occasion.
“There’s a bit of extra pressure with being reigning European champion, but there’s also pressure that I put on myself so I try and use it as a positive if I can.”
Meanwhile there was women’s doubles success for England's Lauren Smith and Sarah Walker, victorious 21-10 26-24 over Germans Lisa Kaminski and Hannah Pohl.
Five consecutive points in the first game paved their way towards success, and while the second was a more tense and tight tussle, nothing could stop them setting up a second-round tie with Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan of South Korea.
It wasn’t to be in the women’s doubles for Scotland's Rebekka Findlay and Caitlin Pringle however, missing out to France’s Emilie Lefel and Anne Tran.
Home heroes Martin Campbell and Julie MacPherson also bowed out of the mixed doubles, losing to Nico Ruponen and Amanda Hogstrom of Sweden in straight sets.
But Ben Lane and Jess Pugh of England did make it through, coming from behind to win a thriller, 14-21 21-16 21-14 against the Dutch duo Robin Tabeling and Cheryl Seinen.
Elsewhere in another busy day of British action, Greg Mairs and Jenny Moore, Fontaine Chapman and Chloe Birch all bowed out of their respective disciplines.
But the last word of the day was to be reserved for Merrilees, hopeful he can learn from one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of his life.
“It was a great experience out there, I was finding it hard to prepare myself mentally because you’re playing against the best player in the world,” he said.
“It was difficult to see a winning scenario, but if I’m honest I was really struggling through that match, I was so nervous the whole way through and I could have been sick.
“He’s played some unbelievable shots that hardly anyone in the world is getting back. I thought I had won the rally but he would get it back and then put me under pressure too.
“I think what is the most difficult part, is that I have grown up watching Lin Dan, he has been the player I have aspired to play like.”
The TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 is being staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena from 21-27 August.
Article and film by Sportsbeat.
Photo from Badminton Photos.
History was made on finals day at the TOTAL BWF World Championships as Viktor Axelsen became the first European player to win men’s singles gold in 20 years.