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First-round bye is welcome for Scotland's singles hope

Kirsty Gilmour will open her European Championship campaign later this month with a match against Maja Tvrdy of Slovenia in the second round.

Gilmour, who will be seeded second in the women's singles for the event, yesterday received a bye in the first round and will instead begin against the player ranked No.78 in the world.

The Scot's progress in Kazan is not expected to be troubled until at least the quarter-final stage, when she is expected to face fifth-seed Kristina Gavnholt. Even then, the Hamilton-born 20-year-old holds a 4-1 advantage over the Czech in previous meetings.

A trip to Russia for a competition which begins on April 23 - with a prospective final against Spain's Carolina Marin four days later - cannot be considered a jolly, though. Gilmour will be Scotland's sole hope in the singles following Kieran Merrilees' withdrawal from the men's event as a result of injury.

The potential for Scottish success does extend to the mixed doubles in which Imogen Bankier will compete alongside Robert Blair. Bankier, from Glasgow, teamed up with England's Chris Adock to win bronze at this event two years ago and the former partners will likely face one another on opposite sides of the court this year as Adock competes alongside wife, Gabby.

Bankier and Blair are on course to meet the second seeds in the semi-finals and are bolstered by wins last month in the Yonex German Open and the French International. Those victories followed their triumph in the Scottish Open Grand Prix in November.

Those results offer momentum to a partnership which will begin the tournament against Russians Andrej Ashmarin and Ekanerina Bolotova, while there is also the prospect of a match against Mads Pieler Kolding and Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark in the last eight should both pairs get that far.

Bankier will combine her ambition in the mixed event with that in the women's doubles, where she has teamed up with Bulgarian Petya Nedelcheva. The pair are afforded a bye in the first round and will instead begin against the winner of the match involving Audrey Fontaine and Emilie Lefel of France and Sarah Thomas and Carissa Turner of Wales.

Martin Campbell and Patrick MacHugh begin against French pair Lucas Corvee and Brice Leverdez in the men's doubles, with Scottish Open winners Kolding and Mads Conrad-Petersen likely to await the winners.

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