Badminton: Better mindset the key for Kieran Merrilees

By Jane Lewis and Keir MurrayBBC Scotland
Interview - Glasgow badminton player Kieran Merrilees

Kieran Merrilees believes he must improve his mindset if he is to become a better player and progress at badminton's Scottish Open Grand Prix.

The Glaswegian beat England's Sam Phillips 22-20 21-14 in the second round at the Emirates Arena in his home city but feels he has more to offer.

"At the start I was a bit slow but once I got going I was OK," said the 24-year-old.

"I think a lot of it, in my head, was trying to get used to this arena."

Merrilees beat countryman Steven Stewart 24-22 21-10 in the first round and, though he never looked in danger of losing to Phillips, his body language on court betrayed his mixed feelings about his display.

He told BBC Scotland: "It wasn't a great performance but it was enough to get through.

"I know the guy I was playing quite well so sometimes it's hard to play against someone you are quite friendly with.

"My next game is going to be really tough so that's when it starts to get serious."

Merrilees now plays 25-year-old Malaysian Kwong Beng Chan, who beat Ireland's Scott Evans 28-26 21-19 in their second round match on Thursday.

"I'll definitely have to bring a higher level against this opponent than I have in my first two games," he added.

"Something I have to improve on if I want to get better is approaching the game in a different manner, go in a bit more aggressive. I'll need to do that in my next game.

"I'm quite used to these scenarios, which keeps my coaches pretty frustrated, but hopefully I'll be OK in my next game."

After a frustrating period with injuries, Merrilees, ranked 75th in the world - the highest-placed Scot - is happy that he is moving freely now.

"I feel like I've got to make up for lost time. Three years ago I was the same sort of ranking as I am now," he said.

"I'm conscious that, because I missed so many tournaments and so much training time, I'm sort of playing catch-up and hope to stay injury free."

The Emirates will host the badminton competition at the Commonwealth Games next year and Merrilees, who represented Scotland at the Delhi Games, views the Scottish Open Grand Prix as ideal preparation.

He said: "Some of the tournaments I play in, the halls are a lot smaller so it is really good experience for players at my standard to get used to playing these big arenas.

"It's good to get used to this hall. The venue is brilliant so I can't complain.

"The crowd backing can make such a difference to your performance. Four years ago in Delhi I was there just for experience whereas now I can try to get a medal.

"I'm trying to get myself into a position where I'm seeded for the Commonwealths and I can hopefully get myself into the quarter-finals, and who knows what can happen then in a big event."

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