Day 3 review 1200

15 March 2023

Sean Vendy and Ben Lane left Birmingham with their heads held high after an opening round defeat at the YONEX All England Open on Wednesday night.

Lane and Vendy, ranked 18th in the world, had been handed a challenging opening round draw against fifth seeds Liu Yu Chen and Ou Xuan Yi.

The two pairings have already met twice this year and on both occasions it was the Chinese who prevailed in straight games, making them favourites ahead of this contest.

The fifth seeds held the upper hand in the opening game, and claimed it 21-18 despite a late surge from Lane and Vendy.

They raced out to a quick lead in the second game and when leading 16-11 it looked as if the contest was only heading one way, though Lane and Vendy had other ideas.

The duo fought back to level at 16-16, and produced some stunning shuttling to force a deciding game – much to the delight of sterling support at the Utilita Arena.

Yet, despite their best efforts, Lane and Vendy fell behind early on and Chen and Yi demonstrated all their class to close out a hard-fought 21-8 17-21 21-16 victory.

“We’re obviously very disappointed losing,” said Lane.

“I thought we played some good badminton out there but we were just a bit too patchy. We played some very good badminton at the end of the second to get us back into the game because we were a set and 16-11 down.

“It’s always a bit gutting when you train hard for a big event and lose, but it’s definitely coming. We feel like we’re playing well and training well.

“The crowd are amazing in Birmingham, it was the same in the Commonwealth Games last summer and same every time we come here. A big thanks to the crowd and everyone who supports us, not just today but throughout the whole year.”

Vendy added: “Like Ben said we’re training really hard and we were in really good shape coming in. We’re obviously gutted, it was a really tough draw but I’m sure there are a lot of positives to take.

“We might have just given them a little too much of a lead [in the third] and again we caught back a little bit, but it was probably a bit too hard at that point.”

Also in action were Greg Mairs and Jenny Moore, who fell to an agonising defeat to Kim Won Ho and Jeong Na Eun.

Mairs and Moore did not play the All England last year but looked at home at the Utilita Arena in the early stages, proving too much for the Korean pair to handle.

The English duo raced to an early lead and did not allow their opponents to regain a significant foothold, taking the opening game 21-15.

Ho and Eun battled back in the second game, racing away on the scoreboard early on and not giving an inch to Mairs and Moore to force a decider.

Mairs and Moore responded brilliantly in the opening stages of the decider, and looked to be closing in on victory at 11-3 and later 16-10 up.

But the Koreans used all their might and experience, taking advantage of Mairs and Moore’s nerves to battle back and seal a 15-21 21-9 21-19 victory that left the English duo understandably heartbroken.

“We were 11-3 up and went 14-5 up. You get these demons in your head thinking about winning,” said Mairs.

“We’ve had this so many times in the past and I thought we’d overcome that hurdle, but against a pair like that who did not make one mistake, it’s so difficult, especially when we were playing on that harder end for us.

“That win would have meant so much to us, it would have been the biggest win of our careers and now it’s the biggest loss of our careers.”

Moore added: “I’m very disappointed. I think we were up 16-10, so to throw away that kind of lead is pretty crushing.

“Obviously you get nervous in those crucial points and they start getting three points for every one of your points. You just start getting a bit stressed and a bit nervous, that’s what happened to us today.

“We’ve got a week preparing for our next tournament. It’ll take at least a day to get over that but we’ll try.”

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

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