Empty arena finally takes its toll as badminton star Smith bows out

Pic: Badminton Photo

Picture: Badminton Image

Lauren Smith feels an absence of crowds at YONEX All England added to her semi-final death along with Marcus Ellis in the blended doubles.

The Carlisle star and Ellis fell in the last 4 at badminton’s most prominent competition at Utilita Arena Birmingham for the 2nd year in a row.

Smith and Ellis were peacefully beaten by Japan’s Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino, who dominated 21-10 21-18 and never ever let the English duo get an appearance in.

“I’d hold my hands up and say I haven’t been as sharp as I’d like to be this week,” stated the 29-year-old.

“Maybe it’s the empty arena, I’ve been struggling with that the entire time.

“In that first set, having a bit of atmosphere might have helped lift us a little bit, but I can’t make excuses, it’s the same or them as it is for us.

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

The mad rate matched the Japanese duo, however the English world No.9 pairing landed their reasonable share of punches in the 2nd video game.

They held them to 17-16 however unforced mistakes in the latter phases saw Watanabe and Higashino progres, making it a tidy sweep of Japanese sets in the guys’s, females’s and blended doubles finals.

Smith, whose hopes in the females’s doubles ended at the quarter-final phase along with Chloe Birch, was sorry for a headache start that saw them slip into an 8-0 deficit in the very first.

“We started really poorly and we weren’t up to speed at all in the first set,” she stated.

“Whether that was the change of level, a bit of focus, I’m not entirely sure. But it took us a set to settle in to better tactics and get our legs up to speed and play the quality we needed to.

“It was disappointing, because in that second set we stressed them, even though we were never actually ahead.

“You could see in their body language that they were finding it hard and they were worried. If we could have done that earlier and stepped up and shown a bit more, they wouldn’t have played quite so freely.”

Following a difficult year for everybody, the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships marks the primary step in motivating individuals to return on court as quickly as they can. For additional information for the badminton neighborhood, see https://www.badmintonengland.co.uk/return-to-play/

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.