Lauren Smith

YONEX All England 2023: Lauren Smith rides emotional rollercoaster

Carlisle’s Lauren Smith rode an emotional rollercoaster on her return to the world’s oldest and most prestigious badminton tournament.

The Olympian tasted sweet victory with Chloe Birch in women’s doubles and then crushing defeat alongside Marcus Ellis in mixed doubles in the first round of the YONEX All England Open.

Smith and Birch got the tournament off to a perfect start for the hosts with a 21-9 21-18 first-round win over American pairing of Srivedya Gurazada and Ishika Jaiswal.

Their power proved too much for the world No.39 duo as they wrapped up victory in 35 minutes to delight their home crowd at Utilita Arena Birmingham.

“(To close it out in two games) shows good character – that’s something Chloe and I pride ourselves on, being pretty tough,” said the 31-year-old.

“We managed to turn it around, it would have been easy to let them run away with it as they were building in confidence and we weren’t executing in the way we wanted to.

“We were very clear on the plan, we were assessing what was going on and changed what we were doing towards the end. There was really good maturity from us as a pair to do that.”

Birch and Smith face a tough second-round assignment in the shape of Japan’s Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara, who dumped out Malaysian fifth seeds Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan in one of the biggest shocks of opening day.

The pairings haven’t met since the French Open in 2019.

“We’ve got a lot of good memories in Birmingham so we’re hopeful we can make some more this year,” said Smith.

Later on in the final game of the day on Court 1, Smith and Ellis battled hard but went down to a 21-16 21-17 defeat to Japan’s Kyohei Yamashita and Naru Shinoya.

The momentum was with Ellis and Smith at the start of the second game but the English pair lost their radar and their opponents claimed eight successive points for victory inside 45 minutes.

Smith added: “We showed in that game that we could compete. We were doing the right stuff and were better than them in parts of the game. But their consistency was better than ours and there were a lot of errors.

“This is our first major competition back and we knew we’d have to learn as we go. We’re disappointed but we’re going to reflect, learn and hopefully build. We want to grow from this.”

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

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