Hemming Pugh 1200

Callum Hemming and Jessica Pugh came within a whisker of their second tournament victory in as many weeks only to fall at the final hurdle of the Welsh International.

The pair arrived in Cardiff fresh from their Scottish Open triumph and had to come from behind in the first round, defeating Sai Pratheek K and Gayatri Gopichand Pullela 19-21, 22-20, 21-16.

They then came through their next three matches in straight games to set up a showpiece final with French qualifiers William Villeger and Anne Tran, who had earlier knocked out English pairs Rory Easton and Annie Lado in the second round and Gregory Mairs and Jenny Moore in the last four.

Villeger and Tran took the opener 21-15 and though Hemming and Pugh levelled matters in the second game, the French pair held their nerve in the decider to win it 21-16 and lift the trophy.

Hemming and Steven Stallwood were top seeds in the men’s doubles but fell in the second round, as did fellow English pairs Matthew Clare and Ethan van Leeuwen – who beat eighth seeds Junaidi Arif and Muhammad Haikal – and Koon Fung Kelvin Ho and Pak Yu Ng.

Easton and Zach Russ kept the flag flying until the semi-finals, where they were beaten by fifth seeds Man Wei Chong and Tee Kai Wun.

England also had a semi-finalist in the women’s singles after Freya Redfearn came through a series of mammoth encounters.

After overcoming compatriot Gauri Shidhaye in the first round, Redfearn took on third seed Yaelle Hoyaux and came from behind to win a thriller 11-21, 24-22, 21-14 in 53 minutes.

Next up was a similarly nail-biting encounter against Hristomira Popovska, who claimed the opener 21-13 before Redfearn again roared back to take the next two 21-19, 26-24, coming from 14-6 and 17-12 down in the decider.

Zhang Wen Yu lay in wait in the semi-finals and prevailed 21-19, 21-11 to end Redfearn’s excellent run.

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.

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