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Ellis and Smith reach Bitburger Open semi-finals

Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith's partnership continues to flourish as they moved one step closer to the Bitburger Open final.

Ellis and Smith - who last month won their first title as a pair, at the Dutch Open - battled into the semi-finals in Germany with a straight games win over Thai opposition.

Eighth seeds Nipitphon Phuangphuapet and Jongkolphan Kititharakul proved a relatively easy hurdle to overcome for England's newest mixed doubles pair, with Ellis and Smith never once falling behind in the first game to triumph 21-19.

The second game was a tougher fight, however, as the advantage swung back and forth across the net before Ellis and Smith eventually wrapped up a 21-19 win having levelled at 19-all.

Their top form had been evident in the second round when they defeated second seeds Wang Chi-Lin and Lee Chia Hsin of Chinese Taipei - who had earlier eliminated Ben Lane and Jess Pugh.

It's that form they will look to continue against qualifiers Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Line Kjaersfeldt of Denmark in the last four.

But while Smith's Bitburger journey continues in the mixed doubles, her women's doubles campaign alongside Sarah Walker came to an end in the second round.

The sixth seeds, facing Dutch duo Selena Piek and Cheryl Seinen, won the first game but could do little to prevent their opponents triumphing 16-21 21-17 21-19.

It was disappointment too for Rajiv Ouseph, as the reigning European champion missed out on a quarter-final place at the hands of Mark Caljouw.

Second seed Ouseph had battled back to take the second game after his Dutch opponent had sealed the early advantage, but Caljouw eventually recorded a 21-16 11-21 21-14 win to progress.

Elsewhere, Chloe Birch came agonisingly close to taking her tie with Lee Chia Hsin to a third game but couldn't find that last push to see her through to the next round, while she and Pugh also missed out on a quarter-final spot in the women's doubles with defeat to the Chinese fifth seeds Du Yue and Xu Ya.

Photo: Badminton Photo