Marcus Ellis reflects on what could have been as YONEX All England Open campaign ends

·2 min read
Pic: Badminton Photo
Pic: Badminton Photo

REGRETS, Marcus Ellis had a few in the manner of his exit from the YONEX All England semi-finals alongside Lauren Smith in the mixed doubles.

The Huddersfield star and Smith fell in the final four at badminton's most prestigious tournament at Utilita Arena Birmingham for the second year in a row.

Ellis and Smith were soundly beaten by Japan’s Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino, who prevailed 21-10 21-18 and never let the English duo get a look in.

“We had the attack maybe twice in the whole game,” Smith admitted.

“The rest of the time, we were just lifting and in defence. As good as your defence is, eventually the ones attacking are going to win.

“When we switched ends, we said we needed to push up the court and take the advantage they had over us. In parts, we did do that.

“That's probably the biggest positive I could take, that we managed to slightly change the way the game was going. I still feel disappointed with the performance.”

The frenetic pace suited the Japanese duo, but the English world No.9 pairing landed their fair share of punches in the second game.

They held them to 17-16 but unforced errors in the latter stages saw Watanabe and Higashino progres, making it a clean sweep of Japanese pairs in the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles finals.

Ellis, whose hopes in the men’s doubles ended at the quarter-final stage alongside Chris Langridge, feels he’s gradually adapting to the new normal of COVID competition.

“In training, everything's going well, but it does take time to get that into a competitive environment, and some have got back into it better than others,” he said.

“With each passing tournament, there are small improvements. We've got some other tournaments which is an opportunity to put things right from this week.”

Smith - Ellis’s partner on and off court - was critical of her own performances at the Super 1000 event.

“I'd hold my hands up and say I haven't been as sharp as I'd like to be. Maybe it's the empty arena, I've been struggling with that the entire time,” she said.

“I've personally underperformed this week, which is disappointing because it's a real opportunity to do something good on home soil.”

PLEASE LEAVE IN FINAL PAR - Following a tough year for everyone, the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships marks the first step in inspiring people to get back on court as soon as they can. For more information for the badminton community, visit https://www.badmintonengland.co.uk/return-to-play/