Carder on hunt for second title in 4 weeks
The Babolat Bulgarian International kicks off this week in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, the future series rated event sees a blend of youth and experience across all five disciplines with Scotland’s Matthew Carder looking to claim his second title in four weeks from the uncustomary position as top seed in the men’s singles.
The 23-year-old Scot (main picture) has been performing well in recent months on the Badminton Europe circuit with his world ranking graph being testament to that progression. The Scot was outside the world’s top 300 at the beginning of the year and has climbed steadily to 173 helped by his victory at the Slovak Open at the beginning of September.
Carder has also shown signs of reasonable form as recently as last week in Prague and his inclusion in Scotland’s European mixed team championship qualification team will only serve to boost the Scot ahead of his trip to Bulgaria this coming week.
Carder has a very tricky opening round against Dane Mikkel Enghoj and it would be no surprise if the winner of this first wound match went on to win the tournament outright. Second seed is Bulgarian Ivan Rusev who will remember Carder well from their final in Slovakia and a repeat of that final could also be on the cards.
In the women’s singles Belarussian Alesia Zaitsava returns to the circuit after a 4-month hiatus and is top seed. Nestled in the Belarussians half of the draw is England’s Panuga Riou (pictured below) a two-time winner on the circuit in the past until injury halted her progress. It is really only a question of time and health before the English woman climbs the top step of the podium at entry level circuit tournament level.
In the doubles events Rusev teams up with Daniel Nikolov as top seeds for their home international in the men’s doubles and should have what it takes to lift the title while Scottish pair Findlay and Pringle have to be red hot for the women’s doubles title.
In the mixed doubles Serbian pair Bjelan and Simic head the entry list as top seeds but the most interesting entry certainly comes down the bottom half of the draw where the name of Ben Stawski of England is entered alongside Lubomira Stoynova of Bulgaria. The former national team player from England has been off the circuit for a few years but his talent is never questioned. It will be interesting to watch his progression this week in Sofia.
For all the draws for the Babolat Bulgarian International this week click HERE All the action kicks off today, Thursday with the qualification rounds with full main draw action scheduled for tomorrow Friday.
Article and archive images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe