Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith are relishing the challenges that lie ahead having safely booked their passage into the Olympic mixed doubles quarter-finals with a match to spare.
The British pair triumphed 21-13, 21-19 over Canadian rivals Josephine Wu and Joshua Hulburt-Yu to earn their second victory in as many days.
The result ensures they will be in the last eight no matter what happens in tomorrow’s final group game against Thai third seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai.
Ellis and Smith needed just 15 minutes to wrap up the opening game on Sunday and though they were pushed harder in the second, their determination shone through and the winning point was greeted with a roar by Ellis.
“We’ve never played them before,” he said. “Of course we were expected to win, we expected ourselves to win but it’s very rare that you play against a pair in these big tournaments that you haven’t played before, so for us it was something new.
“They play in a way that maybe we’ve not played against before so there is definitely something to take away from the match, something to learn from.
“We have a bigger challenge tomorrow so hopefully we can raise our game right up there to compete with them.”
The No.8 ranked pair overcame Thom Gicquel and Delphine Delrue on Saturday and Smith was delighted to continue their momentum through the weekend.
“After a good performance yesterday we knew it was ours to take, ours to get through,” said the 29-year-old.
“We maybe didn’t play our best in the second set but those sorts of situations can do that.
“If anything, we should be happy with the fact that we did come through in two sets, we kept our nerve, we fought for every point.
“I think maybe in that second set we were a little bit less structured than we wanted to be. We didn’t quite execute the tactics and maybe didn’t make them move as much as we normally like to make our opponents move.
“But I think in general we are executing what we want to. We’re bringing quality at the right times.
“The speed is definitely there which is a really big part of our game and we get to test it tomorrow against the Thai pair.”
Ellis is similarly excited for what is in store in Tokyo, with the quarter-finals taking place on Wednesday following tomorrow’s clash with Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai.
“We’re very happy that we’re through the box and who knows what lies ahead,” he said.
“Of course, we came here in the top eight on the list and we wanted to get through our group.
“In a way, we’ve kind of reached our seeding now so whatever happens from here is a bonus.
“Hopefully we can take some pressure off of ourselves and relish the opportunity to play against the top four or five pairs in the world.”
Smith is in action on two fronts on Monday, rounding off her mixed doubles group stage alongside Ellis at 4am (BST) before a must-win game in the women’s doubles with Chloe Birch.
The British pair face Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu at 10am (BST) needing a victory over the world No.6-ranked duo to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.
A similar scenario awaits Ben Lane and Sean Vendy in the mixed doubles as they face a must-win clash with Chinese Taipei’s Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin at 3.20am (BST).
Having been beaten by the top seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in Saturday’s opener, this test is almost as tough for Lane and Vendy against a pair ranked third in the world.
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Photos courtesy of Badminton Wire