Birch Smith Day 3 preview 1200

15 March, 2023

Chloe Birch and Lauren Smith will fly the English flag on Thursday as they get set for an intriguing second round tie at the YONEX All England Open.

Back playing the event together this year for the first time since 2021, Birch and Smith will face Japan’s Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara for a place in Friday’s quarter-final line-up.

Birch and Smith will be looking to build on an impressive opening round display when they take to court on Thursday, having overcome Americans Srivedya Gurazada and Ishika Jaiswal.

After a comfortable opening game, all of their experience came through as they eventually outmuscled the tournament debutants in a tougher second game to seal a 21-9 21-18 victory in 35 minutes.

Birch said: “We know the next match is tough, so to get a game where we could work on a few things and we sussed a few things out.

“Just getting on those courts and playing is really good for the later rounds. I’m excited for the next round!”

Things do not get easier for Birch and Smith, who now face a well-established pair that pulled off a slight shock in a big opening round clash in Birmingham.

Matsumoto and Nagahara defeated fifth seed Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan 21-13 15-21 21-15 on Tuesday to set up this encounter.

The Japanese pairing have been at the very top of the game, ranked as world No.1s and winning back-to-back BWF World Championships in 2018 and 2019.

Matsumoto and Nagahara were also champions at the All England in 2021 and won bronze at the World Championships in Tokyo last year, but have struggled recently.

Towards the end of 2022 they fell outside of the top ten of the BWF rankings for the first time since July 2018 due to Nagahara’s struggles with an achilles injury, and have not won a title since their All England success two years ago.

Now ranked 11th, Matsumoto and Nagahara sit 48 places above Birch and Smith in the rankings and have won both previous meetings between the pairings, though it has been over three years since the two partnerships faced each other.

Tickets for the 2023 YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships are on sale now. Click here to find out more.

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