Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith paid tribute to the fans as their second-round exit marked the end of the home hopes at the YONEX All England Open.

The world No.9 pairing have reached the semi-finals in the last two editions of the sport’s oldest tournament but it wasn’t to be this time around.

Ellis and Smith were the first to admit they were some way short of their best in a tight defeat to Japan’s Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsutomo.

“Losing’s never great, but we never really settled and got flowing,” said Smith.

“We fought as hard as we could, our level was just quite poor today. It’s one of the most frustrating days to have a day like that

“This is where you want to perform and play well. We know we can be so much better than that in every area of the court and there was a lot of room for improvement.

“We’re really disappointed. We wanted to perform for the crowd, but it was one of those days.”

Smith added: “They’re a good pair. It’s not like we played terribly, but when we go on court we have high expectations of how we want to play.

“I’m not entirely sure why it didn’t come together. But we didn’t play badly, it just wasn’t quite how we wanted. We have to search for those answers but we don’t have them now.”

Ellis and Smith struggled to settle, losing the first game 21-15 and staring down the barrel four points down at the break in the second.

But with a partisan crowd firmly behind them at Utilita Arena Birmingham, they held their nerve in tight exchanges to take the second 23-21.

The Japanese, who they were playing for the first time, kept the initiative in the third game took it 22-20.

“Without the crowd today, we probably would have lost that in two,” said Smith.

“They lifted us to take that second set. They pushed us to the end of the third and we love it out there.

“It’s the worst place to have a day like that and we’re sorry to everybody. We’ll be back at our best next year.”

Smith added: “We were the last English pair in, so we were the last hopes. We’ve had some good performances from all the English players and we wanted to try to get through to tomorrow.

“We weren’t able to do that so we’re sorry about that – we tried our best, it just wasn’t as we wanted it.”

The YONEX Swiss Open, a Super 300 event, gives an immediate opportunity for the duo to bounce back.

And with challenges to come in 2022 like a home Commonwealth Games and World Championships, there are still plenty of chances to shine for the two-time Olympians.

“You can’t pin all your hopes on one tournament, although this is the one you want to win,” said Ellis.

“We’ve got ten tournaments to concentrate on between now and the end of the year. We’ll get another chance and we’ll take it – eventually.”

The YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships return to Utilita Arena Birmingham with the best players from around the world from 16th – 20th March 2022.

Don’t miss out, get your tickets today.

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