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13 March 2023

Action at YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships begins on Tuesday with two English pairings looking to start their campaigns in style

Lauren Smith will first step onto court with Chloe Birch in the women’s doubles, before returning later in the day alongside Marcus Ellis in the mixed doubles.

Smith and Birch open their campaign against American pairing Srivedya Gurazada and Ishika Jaiswal, a fairly new partnership making their YONEX debut in Birmingham.

It will also be an All England return for the English partnership, with Smith not playing the women’s doubles event last year and Birch partnering Jess Pugh.

Though both women are managing expectations as they continue to work and redevelop their partnership – which saw them claim Commonwealth silver in Birmingham last summer – the duo are confident they can deliver when it matters.

“I do like to challenge myself,  it’s an extra opportunity to get out there. It’s another match to go and enjoy in front of the home crowd – it’s another game to go and win,” said Smith.

“I feel like Chloe, and I are playing well now. There are a few fundamentals of controlling matches and momentum we can improve on, but what we’re doing in the training hall and how our mindset has been, we’re very capable of going out there and causing some upsets.”

Birch added: “Now we’ve got back on court, and we’ve gelled back together again, it is going well. We’re just learning game by game again to figure out what we need to do for our partnership.”

The duo will appear second on Court 1, and Smith returns to that court to play alongside Ellis in the final match scheduled.

Twice semi-finalists at the All England, this year will prove extra sweet for both after battling through injury problems at the tail end of 2022.

Smith struggled with a leg injury which saw her sidelined for a short period, while Ellis feared his career may be over due to a recurring hip issue.

However, the former Olympic bronze medallist has battled back after surgery and will make his return to the BWF World Tour on home soil alongside his off-court partner.

“Every single year when I go out there, it feels so special,” he said. “It’s those moments I’ll remember long after I retire.

“There’s been a couple of times that myself and Lauren, we’ve gone relatively deep into the competition, and to be honest having a sell-out crowd in Birmingham, with pretty much everyone wanting you to win, it’s quite a special feeling.”

Ellis and Smith are up against Japan’s Kyohei Yamashita and Naru Shinoya in their opening round match at the Utilita Arena.

World Championship bronze medallists in 2021, Yamashita and Shinoya are certainly not to be underestimated though the English duo will be hopeful of victory.

Tickets for the 2023 YONEX All England Open are on sale now. Click here to secure your seat!

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