Five English pairings will be roared on by home crowds for the first time in two years at the YONEX All England Open.

The Utilita Arena Birmingham will be abuzz with badminton fans again and the England contingent hope home advantage drives them to deep runs in the storied Super 1000.

They are led by world No.9 mixed doubles duo Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith who have a superb recent record at the sport’s oldest tournament.

The two-time Olympians have reached the semi-final stage in the last two editions of the event and can’t wait to welcome fans back, starting with Wednesday’s first round.

“It’s so exciting,” said Smith. “We always talk about the home advantage at this tournament and the crowd are a big part of that.

“We missed them a lot last year and the year before that, it helped us through some really sticky games. Hopefully it’s going to bring out the best in us.”

Ellis added: “You can’t compare it to anywhere else we play. It’s a real privilege to play here and to having everyone behind us makes it even more special.”

Their bid to go one better at the All England begins against Indonesia’s Rinov Rivaldy and Pitha Haningtyas Mentari, who they beat as recently as last week.

Ellis and Smith beat the world No.22 pairing in three games on route to reaching the final four at the YONEX Gainward German Open.

“We had a really good week in Germany,” said Ellis. “That was our first tournament this year so we weren’t sure where we were at going into it. We came home very happy.

“We’re happy with the draw and we can see ourselves going quite deep into the tournament.

“We believe we can mix it with the best. We know we’re right up there snapping at the heels of the best in the world, but we have to always be on the top of our game.”

Smith said: “We’re here to stand on that podium and stand at the top. But we have to focus day by day and get the job done.”

Meanwhile Ben Lane and Sean Vendy will aim to recapture the momentum that marked out their rapid rise to the pinnacle of the sport, the Olympic Games.

On All England debut together last year they ran into Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan in the first round, taking the Indonesian second seeds to a deciding rubber.

The draw has been much kinder this time as they take on Malaysia’s Tan Kian Meng and Tan Wee Kiong.

The world No.18s were in the form of their life a year ago as they pulled off three victories at Super 1000 level in Bangkok to reach the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals.

Likewise, men’s doubles counterparts Callum Hemming and Steven Stallwood have made a big splash in their first seasons on the global circuit.

The childhood friends went to the All England together as fans growing up and claimed a fairytale victory on debut in 2021, beaten by Ellis and Chris Langridge in the second round.

The draw pits them against very challenging opponents in the shape of Malaysian world bronze medallists Teo Ee Yi and Ong Yew Sin.

“Ong and Teo are the toughest we’ve ever played against,” said Stallwood.

“They made us bleed out points, there weren’t a lot of clear winners – they didn’t do anything special with their shots, they just put it back over the net time and time again.

“They were so relaxed and that goes for all the top players. They are not necessarily quicker or more powerful than us, but the shot quality and variation is a lot better than the level we’re used to.

“But it gives us a lot of confidence knowing we can play these tournaments, play these top 10 pairs and do quite well.”

Hemming is entered in two draws as he continues his flourishing mixed doubles combination with Jessica Pugh.

The pair won last year’s Scottish Open and Portuguese International and brought home medals from the Welsh and Spanish Internationals.

Hemming will again be pitted against Ong Yew Sin as the Malaysian star takes the wraps off a new partnership with Goh Liu Ying.

The new-look women’s doubles pairing of Chloe Birch and Pugh will play their second-ever game together on one of the biggest stages in badminton.

Birch and Pugh combined for the first time at the German Open, going down 21-15 21-9 to world champions Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan.

They will hope to secure a first victory in tandem against Denmark’s Amalie Schulz and Christine Busch.

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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