Chris and Gabby Adcock will open their European Mixed Doubles title defence against Polish duo Pawel Smilowski and Magdalenda Swierczynska on Day One of the European Championships.
But the Commonwealth Games champions are on course to face a much more familiar foe in Joachim Fischer Nielsen as early as Round 2 in Spain.
The Dane, now playing in an unseeded pairing with rising star Alexandra Boje, has won five of seven fixtures on the world tour against the Adcocks but was on the losing side to Chris and Gabby in last year’s European gold medal match.
Unlike his fellow returning champions Rajiv Ouseph will sit out Day One having been handed a bye in Round One of the Men’s Singles draw. His own title defence will start against Zvonimir Durkiniak or Luis Enrique Penalver, who will be backed by a home crowd.
Ouseph knows his crown is under extra scrutiny with the return to action of a number of Europe’s big hitters, including World Champion Viktor Axelsen. The third seed finds himself in the opposite side of the Men’s Singles draw to the Danish world number one but with Anders Antonsen and the fit again Jan O Jorgensen lurking.
In that bottom half of the draw too is Toby Penty. The Scottish Open champion opens against Luca Claerbout with 2017 silver medallist, and second seed, Antonsen awaiting the winner.
Sam Parsons, who has impressed in recent outings on the European circuit, starts off against Luka Wraber but will be eyeing a potential Round 3 fixture with Axelsen.
Chloe Birch, who impressed in the Gold Coast, will be looking to bring her Commonwealth form to Spain where Croatia’s Maja Pavlinic lays in wait in the singles event. Birch and Jess Pugh – eighth seeded in women’s doubles – get Turkish opposition of Busra Unlu and Ebru Yaxgan in the first round when it gets under way on Wednesday.
They are seeded to meet the 2017 bronze medallist sand third seeds – Maiken Fruergaard and Sara Thygesen – at the quarter-final stage.
Commonwealth Games silver medallists – and 2017 European bronze medalists – Sarah Walker and Lauren Smith also wait until Wednesday to open their 2018 campaign against Ukrainian rivals and will be wary of Sweden’s Emma Karlsson and Johanna Magnusson in Round 2.
Like on the Gold Coast, Smith will contest two events, playing both Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles. She and Marcus Ellis are seeded three but face a tricky Day One opener against Dutch duo Robin Tabeling and Cheryl Seinen. Interestingly, Smith is scheduled to face Seinen again - playing with level doubles partner Selina Piek in the Women’s Doubles quarter-finals.
Likewise, Marcus Ellis will play both doubles events. He and Chris Langridge are fifth seeds in the Men’s Doubles event and have drawn Italian opposition in Wednesday's Round One with the challenge of Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen in the quarter-finals.
Like their Commonwealth gold-winning team mates, Peter Briggs and Tom Wolfenden will also face Italian opposition on opening day with Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding poised to face the winners.
The Danes, seeded two, are now top seeds following the withdrawl of Boe and Mogensen, whose exit from the draw has promoted Ben Lane and Sean Vendy, their scheduled opponents, into Round Two. The young English pair await the winners of Jelle Maas and Robin Tabeling and Alexander Dunn and Adam Hall.
An all-British clash with Dunn and Hall would certainly showcase the new era of British Men’s Doubles.
Lane is another who is playing two events and he and Jess Pugh content the Mixed Doubles where they start against Russia’s Rodion Alimov and Alina Davletova.
The talented English duo are in the same side of the draw as team mates Smith and Ellis and could meet at the semi-final stage – as was the case at the Swiss Open in February.
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