Neslihan Yigit at the World Championships in August (Credit: Badminton Photo).
Kharkiv ready for action
Date: 9/3/2019 8:59 AM
Published by : Tom Hazlewood
The RSL Kharkiv International in Ukraine kicks off Wednesday and welcomes players from all over the world for its annual International Challenge event.

Some of Europe’s top hitters are heading to Eastern Europe, with hope of taking home the crown and the $25,000 reward.

Yigit looking to go back to back
One of the strongest players in the women’s singles is Turkey’s Neslihan Yigit.

The world number 35 comes into the event as the top seed and will be confident after her victory at the last International Challenge event in Nigeria back in July.

Back on that occasion Yigit had to beat out her compatriot Ozge Bayrak in the final and there’s a chance she will have to do that again with Bayrak also in this tournament and seeded highly as well with the Turk being the fifth seed in the women’s singles.

Both Yigit and Bayrak will have to wait to find out who they will have to face in the opening round however with both players set to face a qualifier in their opening round matches.

England looking strong
Another country looking strong ahead of the event is England, with a number of their top stars heading to Kharkiv this week.

The English have a strong presence across all three of the double’s categories with the top seeds in each.

Firstly, in the men’s doubles, where 2016 Olympic bronze medalists Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge are the top seeds for the competition.

The pair have already been successful this year in the European Games and will be hoping that they can add to that here as they push for more Olympic success on the route to Tokyo.

Ellis’ mixed doubles partner in the European Games, Lauren Smith is also in action in Kharkiv with her women’s doubles partner Chloe Birch.

Smith and Birch, who were the runners up in the women’s doubles at the European Games, will be looking for their third title as a pair in 2019 and will be desperate for it to come in Ukraine by Sunday.

Thirdly, the mixed doubles will see Ben Lane and Jessica Pugh go into the tournament as top seeds.

This is this pairs first outing since their round of 32 defeat at the BWF World Championships, and will be looking to put that early exit out behind them and have good outing at the Lokomotiv Sport Palace this week.

Lane, along with partner Sean Vendy will also take part for England in the men’s doubles whilst Toby Penty will look to bring home the men’s singles crown.

See the full draw for the Kharkiv Open
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