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 were in scintillating form as they beat mixed doubles world No.10s Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet on a fantastic Friday at Arena Birmingham, 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.
— 🏆 Yonex All England Badminton Championships 🏆 (@YonexAllEngland) March 13, 2020
“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.
Rais Your Arms If You're In The Semi Final!! 🙋🏼♀️
Another amazing day in Birmingham! Think the match was a bit of a nail biter 😂 😅 but just love being on court here ♥️
📸 Badminton photo#110yearsandbeyond… https://t.co/sDewejytXo
— Lauren Smith (@LaurenE_Smith) March 13, 2020
It was disappointment for Ellis and Chris Langridge in the men’s doubles, however, as they succumbed to a three game defeat against Russian pairing Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov.
The home favourites lost a tightly-contested opening game 21-18, before finding their fluent best in the second to level with a brilliant 21-11 triumph.
But it wasn’t to be, as the world No.31s broke English hearts with a 21-8 win to leave Langridge and Ellis crestfallen.
“I’m both proud of our performance and disappointed - I’m obviously disappointed at the moment,” Langridge said.
“To be honest, it’s tough about the future - I don’t know if I’m going to get to play in another Yonex All England.
“I’m just too old to play in another - I haven’t put an exact date on it but it’s obviously a year away, and I’m going to be officially a veteran then.
“I think it probably will be my last one this year, so it is a bit gutting to have such a good opportunity to make a semi-final as we’ve never made a semi here before.
“It would have been amazing to finish on a very big high, but a quarter-final is still a very respectable result.”
Elsewhere, men’s and women’s singles No.1 seeds Chou Tien-chen and Chen Yufei safely navigated their way into the semi-finals, while there were also victories for Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in the men’s doubles and Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota in the women's.
But there were shocks elsewhere, as women’s doubles first seeds Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan and mixed second seeds Wang Yilu and Huang Dongping both crashed out.
And women’s second seeds Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara also succumbed to a shock defeat, to leave the draw wide open heading into the last four.
English attention returns back to Smith and Ellis on Saturday, as they continue their pursuit of history in what promises to be a seismic day at the Yonex All England in Birmingham.
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.