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Mixed doubles pair claim prize scalp

IMOGEN BANKIER and Robert Blair made another huge statement ahead of Glasgow 2014 when they shocked the highest-ranked mixed doubles pairing in the Commonwealth, England's Chris and Gabby Adcock 21-17, 19-21, 21-13, to reach today's quarter-finals of the German Open in Mulheim.

Blair and Bankier will receive a rankings boost
Blair and Bankier will receive a rankings boost

It was Bankier's first meeting with Chris Adcock since the break-up of their partnership, which produced a silver medal at the World Championships three years ago.

The match looked likely to be over in two games when the Scots led 18-6 in the second but the Adcocks, ranked fifth in the world, hit back to win seven successive points that gave them victory in the second game and a 2-0 lead in the decider. However, Bankier and Blair reasserted themselves impressively and, after just under an hour on court, they took the win on their first match point.

Reaching the quarter-finals of what is a high quality event will boost the Scots' world ranking - they are currently 19th - as they seek to improve their Commonwealth Games seeding.

The only other Games-eligible pairs currently ahead of them are the Malaysians Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying, who are sixth, and England's Chris Langridge and Heather Olver who are 16th but were knocked out in the first round in Germany.

More important than that, however, may be the psychological boost gained, not least because Blair, who spent several years affiliated to England, has also had doubles partnerships in the past with both with both Adcocks.

The Scots also won the only time the pairs met previously, at the All England Championships in 2010, but the Adcocks are now a much more formidable pairing, as they demonstrated when they claimed a prestigious Super Series title in Hong Kong earlier this year.

Having won the Swedish Masters title in their only previous tournament this year, their sixth title in the past 11 months, this consequently provides a key measure of the progress Bankier and Blair have made since forming a regular partnership.

Furthermore, just days after Kirsty Gilmour entered the top 20 in the women's singles world rankings for the first time, it will reinforce the belief of all concerned in their decisions to opt out of the GB Badminton set-up to train full-time in Glasgow ahead of their home Commonwealth Games. Naturally, that was seized upon by Scottish officials, with Gareth McKenna, Badminton Scotland's performance manager saying: "This is a great win for Robert and Imogen against a pair in the top five of the world rankings.

"It highlights how well the work ethic of the players and that of coaches and support staff is paying off. It is vital that we now continue to focus on the rest of this competition and the qualification process for Glasgow 2014."

Gimour's involvement in the tournament ended yesterday, however, when she was beaten once again by Carolina Marin, the No.8 seed from Spain, who also defeated her in the finals of both the London Grand Prix Gold and the Scottish Grand Prix. The loss this time was in straight games, 21-18, 21-13.

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