Lauren Smith says she and Marcus Ellis will ‘throw everything left in the tank’ at their opponents this week as they embark on their maiden HSBC BWF World Tour Finals campaign in Guangzhou.
The GB pair, four time winners on the World Tour this year, have qualified for the coveted end of season showpiece which sees 2018’s top performing world top 8 in each event compete for a prize fund of $1.5 million.
The English duo, fresh from helping England qualify for the European Mixed Team Championships at the weekend, will face Asian opponents in Group A and are the only European contenders in Mixed Doubles.
“We have nothing to lose” Smith told us. “We haven’t played the other pairs too many times before but we have seen them a lot and we have been doing our research. It could also work in our favour as they may not know too much about us as well so hopefully we can spring a surprise.
“We can concentrate on our own game, what we are good at and see where that gets us.”
Smith admitted reaching the finals was an ‘unexpected bonus’ as reward for a strong year on the world circuit and one she was looking to enjoy every moment of although her will to win meant that getting out of the group was the first objective.
“We are going there to win. Me and Marcus want to win every time we step onto court and that doesn’t change for the Finals even though we didn’t really expect to be going” Smith added.
“At the start of the year we didn’t sit down and say this was our aim but we have had a strong year and we want to finish on a high.
“We might not have played as many of [the tour’s] bigger events this year as we have liked, and that’s something we want to do next year, but we have done well where we have been so I think we have proved we have earned the right to play here.
A chance to play at the Finals only really came into our minds in August when someone tweeted to say it we were still in with a chance to qualify but no it wasn’t mapped out or planned that way.
“I don’t think we’d have changed anything about our schedule or that we’d play this tournament or that tournament instead. We have just gone out to win where we have been.
“We had no expectations but I think that may change now”.
Smith and Ellis have been handed a tough draw with the reigning world number one pair Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong up first before taking on Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, the world number sevon duo from Thailand
A match against Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat and Lai Shevon Jemie – a pair Smith and Ellis beat at the French Open in October, completes the group stage, which gets under way on Wednesday (12 December)