An all-English affair lies in wait as a super six pairs of doubles stars return to court for Thursday’s YONEX All England Open Championships drama.
Olympic bronze medallists Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge will have familiar faces on the opposite side of the net with Callum Hemming and Steven Stallwood in store in round two of the men’s doubles.
Stallwood’s day is far from done there, either, set for an appearance on Geoff Rofe Court later in the day as he and Annie Lado face the mixed doubles sixth seeds.
Ellis and Lauren Smith, semi-finalists 12 months ago, are also in mixed action while Smith and Chloe Birch are second on Geoff Rofe Court in the women’s doubles.
And the Thursday action doesn’t stop there in a record-breaking year of English involvement with Jessica Hopton and Jenny Moore finally able to show what they’re capable of after receiving an opening-round walkover.
Ellis and Langridge are facing up against a new pair in Hemming and Stallwood – and there are few better places for that first meeting to come than the YONEX All England.
The Olympic heroes are eighth seeds in the men’s doubles but they certainly won’t have things all their own way against their impressive English opponents.
Hemming and Stallwood enjoyed one of the more dramatic matches of the opening day to come from a game down and win 16-21 21-18 21-17 against Denmark’s Daniel Lundgaard and Mathias Thyrri.
The winner will secure a place in the YONEX All England quarter-finals. So, no pressure.
Ellis said: “We’re searching for that feeling again, that amazing feeling when we know we’re performing at our best. Hopefully we can find it this week.”
That match-up will be the third contest on Court 3 before Stallwood returns to action later in the day as he and Lado take centre stage.
A tough battle with Malaysian sixth seeds Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing lies in store but Stallwood and Lado have already proven they belong on the big Birmingham stage.
“It’s different without a crowd, but it’s amazing that the event can still happen,” said Lado. “There are a lot of positives to forming a new pair during a pandemic.”
Mixed hopes far from end there – and after reaching semi-final day at the YONEX All England in 2020, Ellis and Smith will be hoping to repeat the trick on home soil.
Seeded fourth this year, expectation is now also in their corner and a match-up with Rasmus Espersen and Christine Busch will offer a good test of the credentials in the ninth match on Geoff Rofe.
But Smith has plenty more to think about beforehand, however, with she and Birch second on the TV court against Isabella Nielsen and Marie Louise Steffensen.
The seventh seeds are one of two English pairs still standing in the women’s doubles, with Hopton and Moore the seventh match on later today.
Moore has already had a taste for the action in Birmingham in the mixed but today marks a long-overdue beginning for playing partner and debutant Hopton.
The duo received a walkover from their opening match and now face Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.