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Ellis and Smith secure pair of successes on thrilling first day of Yonex All England

Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith both powered to a pair of victories on a thrilling first day of the Yonex All England Championships in Birmingham.

2016 Olympic bronze medallist Ellis booked his place in the last 16 of both the men’s and mixed doubles in front of a raucous English crowd, joining forces with Smith and Chris Langridge to keep his hopes of a famous hometown glory alive.

The decorated 30-year-old eased past Japanese mixed pair Takuro Hoki and Wakana Nagahara 21-9 21-15 alongside Smith, teeing up a second round clash with fourth seeds Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino.

And in the men’s competition Ellis and Langridge beat Di Zijian and Wang Chang after a pulsating third game decider, coming through 21-16 to book a date with world No.5s Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto.

“Both of these matches in the first round were real banana skins, but at the same time they were really winnable,” Ellis said.

“It’s been a challenging few weeks for me and Chris with a few issues that have meant we haven’t been able to train together very much.

“This is really, really big for us, even just winning this game - it’s not even just in regards to points, and it’s just really, really important for our partnership in the doubles.

“And when Lauren and I are at our best we just make ourselves very, very hard to beat.

“Going from the mixed to the men’s doubles varies from tournament to tournament - it sometimes depends on how your confidence levels are that day, but they are very, very different events.

"The game is very different and I really have to switch my mentality, which sometimes can be more challenging than on other days.”

Smith first helped Ellis breeze pasty Hoki and Nagahara on Wednesday afternoon, before also turning her attention to another format as she teamed up with Chloe Birch.

And that duo toppled German pairing Linda Efler and Isabel Herttrich 21-18 21-14 under the Arena Birmingham lights, lining up a tantalising date with destiny against world No.1s Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan.

“Performing in this tournament is important - it’s one of the big ones and it’s highly-regarded among the badminton community, and it’s our home tournament, so I would absolutely love to perform well here,” Smith said.

“I’ve grown up watching it so it’s got a lot of prestige, but I think the important thing is not getting caught up in the occasion - you’ve got to focus on performing day by day, and controlling the controllables.

“It’s about not thinking too much about the event and the occasion, and just enjoying being able to play at home.”

It was first round heartbreak for Chris and Gabrielle Adcock in the mixed doubles, however, as the world No.13s lost a disappointing three game encounter with eighth seeds Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja.

The experienced double act restored parity at one game apiece after a brilliant 21-17 victory in game two, but lost the decider 21-12 to dash their hopes of a triumph on home soil.

But after a build-up to the tournament that has been blighted by injuries, the duo remained upbeat that they had opted to appear at their favourite tournament of all.

“It’s still massive playing in front of a home crowd - obviously it’s our favourite tournament and we love playing here,” Gabrielle said.

“We like playing here each year, and weirdly, even though we’ve lost I’m just happy that we’ve got on court and that we’ve got a tournament next week that I should be fine for, so I’m going to get ready for that.”

Chris added: “The first time we actually stepped on court for a couple of weeks was yesterday, so we didn’t expect anything here really unfortunately.

“We’ve been a bit plagued with injuries leading into this event which is a shame, but we couldn’t really turn down the opportunity to step on court.

“Any other tournament we wouldn’t have given a go, but it’s obviously hard to turn down an event like this.

“The fact that we took a set off a top ten pair with zero preparation is actually quite surprising.”

Ben Lane and Sean Vendy also succumbed to first round defeat, losing 21-14 21-12 against sixth seeds Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe.

The inexperienced pairing battled hard, however, and were still pleased to turn out in front of such a supportive home crowd.

“Of course it’s always an experience I’ll enjoy playing here - it’s amazing playing in England, and this is the only tournament we really get to play where the crowds all come and we’ve got our families here,” Lane said.

“It’s obviously really disappointing when you lose, but at the end of the day they were better than us out there.”

Vendy added: “The preparation has all been decent really, so I can’t put the loss down to any other circumstances - I thought they were just better than us today.

“It’s always nice to play in front of our home crowd - I think this is the third time we’ve played here and it’s our favourite tournament by a long way.

“At the moment it doesn’t feel quite so good as we’ve only got to play one game in it, but in years to come we hope we’re going to be towards the latter end of the tournament.”

Elsewhere, final English pair Jenny Moore and Victoria Williams were unable to progress in the women’s doubles, being forced to retire against Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy when 5-4 down in the first game.

And among the top seeds, there were wins for defending champion Chen Yufei in the women’s singles, world No.7 Viktor Axelsen in the men’s singles and 2019 winners Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong in the mixed doubles, while men's doubles world No.1s Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo took all three games to progress.

The Yonex All England Open continues tomorrow as the last 16 battles get underway, with Ellis and Smith, Smith and Birch and Ellis and Langridge flying the home flag on what promises to be another scintillating day of badminton action.