Cholan Kayan Sudirman 1200

18 May, 2023

Team England’s 2023 TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup Finals came to an end on Wednesday following a 5-0 defeat to France in Suzhou.

First up for Team England – supported by Yonex, the official clothing supplier of the England National Team – on Wednesday were Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith, taking on Thom Gicquel and Delphine Delrue in the opening rubber of this all-European encounter.

It was by no means an easy task for Ellis and Smith, with the French pairing sitting sixth in the BWF World Rankings – making them the highest ranked European doubles pairing across all three disciplines.

Gicquel and Delrue claimed a 22-20 21-19 victory but, as the score suggests, it was a hard-fought contest, and one of Ellis and Smith’s best displays since the former’s return from hip surgery.

“It was a tricky one. We were down in both games, so we showed good character to get back to level points,” said Smith.

“We put a bit of pressure on them – I think they found it quite tough at the end of sets, but unfortunately we just missed a few executions of the basic stuff. Maybe we thought we had to play too perfectly or weren’t just sharp enough.

“But I think there was some good stuff in there. If you look over our games over the past few days since we’ve been here, we’ve played one good game and then really dropped our level, whereas today we’ve played two good sets – it’s an improvement.”

Ellis added: “I think one of the positive things we can take is that our general performance was better today. On a personal level, we’re quite satisfied.”

Lauren Smith Marcus Ellis Sudirman 1200

Following the opening mixed doubles encounter was the men’s singles rubber, which pitted England’s Cholan Kayan up against Toma Popov Junior.

Kayan had impressed in his performance against South Korea’s Jeon Hyeok-Jin and once again performed incredibly well on Wednesday, against an opponent 207 spots above him in the rankings.

The 20-year-old forced a deciding game against Popov Junior and though it was the Frenchman who edged to a 21-13 14-21 21-17 triumph, once again Kayan can take huge positives from his performance. 

Freya Redfearn was next on court for England, up against world No. 46 Qi Xuefei in her second women’s singles clash of the week in Suzhou.

At 229th in the world, Redfearn is ranked 183 spots below the Frenchwoman, though certainly provided more of a test than expected in this encounter.

Xuefei claimed a 21-11 21-11 victory to seal France overall victory in the tie, but the Englishwoman certainly did not go down without a fight.

Ben Lane and Sean Vendy had sealed England’s first rubber victory of the Sudirman Cup in the tie against South Korea on Monday, and were next up for Team England.

The English pairing took on Lucas Corvee and Ronan Labar, in what was a first ever meeting between the two partnerships – one that Lane and Vendy were perhaps favourites for. 

Lane and Vendy put in a strong effort but Corvee and Labar – one of the most improved pairings in recent times – ultimately proved too strong and consistent in the key exchanges, winning a tight encounter 21-19 21-19.

The final rubber saw Smith return to court alongside Chloe Birch, the duo facing Margot Lambert and Anne Tran in an intriguing women’s doubles contest.

With just one spot between the two pairings ranking-wise and their previous meeting at the Madrid Masters – won by Smith and Birch – going to three games, this was always going to be a hard match to predict. 

After Lambert and Tran controlled the opening game Smith and Birch battled back to force a decider, though the French pair edged the decider to claim a 21-13 11-21 21-18 victory.

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