Badminton: Title eludes tearful Kirsty Gilmour

Kirsty Gilmour had high hopes of winning her first Scottish Open Grand Prix title, but the women’s singles final ended in disappointment for the home favourite when she lost in three tight games to Denmark’s Line Kjaersfeldt yesterday at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

Kirsty Gilmour lost in three games to Denmarks Line Kjaersfeldt. Picture: Lorraine Hill
Kirsty Gilmour lost in three games to Denmarks Line Kjaersfeldt. Picture: Lorraine Hill

All was well when the top seed won the first game 21-16 and even when she lost the second by the same margin everything was far from lost for a player who has physically matured in the 15 months since she claimed the Commonwealth Games silver medal in the same Arena.

The decider was a typical roller-coaster. Gilmour, with two recent wins over the Dane, seemed to be in control when she moved 10-5 ahead, and at 13-10 everything was still pointing to a home win.

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But the tables turned, tension mounted and it was 21-year-old Kjaesrfeldt, the No 4 seed, who gained the momentum. She drew level at 14-all and then, from 16-all, she won four points in a row.

At 16-20, Gilmour produced two scintillating smashes to save the first couple of match points, but it was third time lucky for Kjaesrfeldt as she claimed the title 16-21 21-16 21-18 in just over an hour. Gilmour was in tears as she gained hugs of consolation from family and friends, all too aware that it was a chance lost. “I’ll just have to take this one on the chin,” she said. “I’m still only 22 and I could have eight or so more chances to win this one.

“I’ve got to think of the silver linings. This isn’t my last chance and it’s been another great experience. I’m still on an upward learning curve.

“I don’t think I played badly. Just a little bit of tension crept in towards the end. But all credit to her. That’s by far the best she’s played against me.”

Kjaesrfeldt, ranked 15 places lower at No 35 in the world, said: “I
stayed calm and patient and believed in myself. It was a very tough match but I played some of my best ever badminton.”

In the men’s singles, England’s Raj Ouseph missed out on a third title with defeat to Denmark’s Hans-Kristian ­Vittinghus.

Ouseph won the first six points without reply but still lost the opening game 19-21. He then hit back to easily secure the second 21-11 but top seed Vittinghus won the decider 21-16.

Afterwards, the new champion expressed his delight at the win and was fulsome in his praise of the event.

“The crowd was amazing,” he said of the 2,500 spectators that included Badminton Scotland’s Royal Patron, Prince Edward. “This is the best I’ve played at a Grand Prix. I usually struggle against Raj and didn’t go into the match with too much confidence. But we played some long rallies and I think I managed to frustrate him.

Ouseph is the top British player and is ranked No 18 in the world, one behind Vittinghus, who is only the third ranked Dane.