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Lane and Pugh threaten to topple top seeds

They may not have reached the semi-final, but Jess Pugh knows she and Ben Lane put in a performance to be proud of against the top seeds at the YONEX French Open.

It was a first BWF Superseries quarter-final appearance for the young pairing and they pushed world number ones Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen for all three games, but were eventually defeated 21-18 19-21 21-16.

The lead changed hands continuously throughout the first game and it was hard to believe that the top seeds are 34 places above Lane and Pugh in the world rankings as the shuttlers battled to reach the final four.

The English 20-year-olds are an exciting prospect for the future and even managed to take the second game from Zheng and Chen, who narrowly lost out in this year’s TOTAL BWF World Championships final.

But the experience of the Chinese duo shone through in the third, Lane and Pugh were leading 14-3 when their opponents scored five points in a row and the Asians eventually sealed victory after 52 minutes of play.

Though this marks a third loss against Zheng and Chen, Pugh will be holding her head high after a fantastic run which saw she and Lane defeat the world number ten duo Tse Ying Suet and Tang Chun Man en route to the last eight.

“We played extremely well in this quarter-final match, we are devastated to lose as we felt we had chances to win,” she said.

“I’m sure in a few days we will look back and be really proud of the way we’ve performed this week.

“The French crowd were amazing and we really enjoyed our first quarter-final at a Superseries with a big crowd cheering for us – the adrenaline gets taken to a new level!

“We will recover and relax for a couple of days, watch our games back and definitely take our success forwards and build on the confidence we’re playing with at the moment.

“The more we play at this level and win matches, the quicker we will get to the top, so it’s always great experience.”

Photo: Badminton Photo

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