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Smith issues badminton message on coronavirus-hit sporting weekend

Lauren Smith and Marcus Ellis powered into the Yonex All England semi-finals as they bid to become the first home winners of the competition for 15 years

Lauren Smith secured a Yonex All England semi-final spot and had a message for sports fans - if you’re no longer going to a football match this weekend, get to the badminton.

The Longtown player was in scintillating form alongside partner Marcus Ellis in the mixed doubles on Friday, overturning a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 after a whirlwind final game.

It continues the pair’s pursuit of becoming the maiden home winners of the competition at Arena Birmingham for 15 years, vying to emulate the heroics of Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms who stormed to the mixed doubles title in 2005.

And with a whole host of sport being called off owing to the outbreak of COVID-19 this weekend, Smith wants to see those fans with recently abandoned plans now making their way to the Midlands.

“If you were going to go to the football this weekend, get yourself down to the badminton - it’s much better!” she laughed.

“It was unbelievable out there - this is my first Super Series semi-final now and I’ve done it at the All England in front of a home crowd, so it’s just amazing.

“I think we came back there in exciting fashion so we gave the crowd a good show, so it’s just so exciting to be playing like we are at this tournament.

“We’re in the semi-final now, we’re playing well and anything can happen, so I’m feeling really good.”

Smith and Ellis had to do it the hard way under the Birmingham lights, battling back after losing the first set 24-26 to take the second 22-20.

A brilliant decider from the English pair then sent the adoring home crowd into raptures, keeping them in with a shot of building on their impressive Thailand Masters victory earlier this year.

And Smith, who alongside Ellis is ranked No.12 in the world, says she is daring to dream.

“We are playing some of our best badminton this week - every round we’ve really shone and dominated a lot of the game, so it’s not impossible to win, we’re in the semi-final and anything can happen,” she added.

“Winning in Thailand was a huge confidence booster for us - that was our first win in a Super 300 event having had a few opportunities to do it before, so I think what we’re showing is that we’re really growing.

“We’re learning from every single experience, and it’s showing on court - we’re dominating matches and we’re much more mature in how we are when a game isn’t going our way.

“I think that’s why we’re pushing a lot of these top players and causing a lot of upsets, because we know we’re good enough to beat them.

Witness Legends Begin at the 2020 Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships at Arena Birmingham between March 11-15. Secure your tickets at https://www.allenglandbadminton.com/ today.