Lauren Smith and Marcus Ellis sent the home crowd into raptures after booking their place in the Yonex All England Championships semi-finals.
The English pair needed all their grit to beat mixed doubles world No.10s Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet at Arena Birmingham on Friday, coming from behind to produce a brilliant turnaround.
It keeps the world No.12s’ hopes of a maiden Yonex All England glory alive, now vying to become the first home winners of the competition since Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms back in 2005.
And after using the raucous Birmingham crowd’s momentum to defiantly overcome the Hong Kong pair, the local duo were over the moon to extend their stay in the Midlands into the weekend.
“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,” Smith said.
“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.”
Ellis added: “It’s a really huge honour to get into the semi-finals – coming out today, it feels very, very special for us.
“Growing up, we came here as seven and eight-year-olds in the crowd and we dreamed of playing here, so to actually make the semi-finals is so special, and we’re at that point now where it feels like anything can happen.”
The home favourites lost a pulsating first game 26-24 to leave them with a mountain to climb, before levelling in the second in an equally gripping 22-20 victory.
And from there they found their resurgent best, winning the decider 21-11 to trigger jubilation on the terraces among a packed-out crowd.
But Ellis, who won mixed doubles Commonwealth Games silver with Smith back in 2018, insisted their work at the competition was far from complete.
“This victory is right up there for me in terms of my career – this really, really is a very special tournament, and for me more so than an other tournament on the calendar bar the Olympics and the World Championship,” he said.
“It’s a really big deal, but I think the important thing is that we don’t just accept what we’ve done and we carry on pushing on – we want to test ourselves and see how many more upsets we can cause.”
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