Marcus Ellis surged into a pair of quarter-finals as he made it a Thursday to remember at the Yonex All England Championships in Birmingham.
The 2016 Olympic bronze medallist was in scintillating form under the Arena Birmingham lights, sending the raucous English crowd into raptures not once but twice as he kept his hopes of a famous triumph on home soil alive.
The 30-year-old teamed up with Lauren Smith in the mixed doubles as they toppled fourth seeds Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino in the afternoon session, before turning his attention to the men’s competition as him and Chris Langridge beat fifth seeds Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto in two thrilling sets.
And that teed up what could be a famous Friday at the competition, as Ellis and co continue their quest to become the first English winners of any Yonex All England competition since 2005.
“If you told me I was going to make two quarter-finals on Monday I would have been very, very happy,” he said.
“I’m really, really delighted, so for me Chris and Lauren it’s been a really good day.
“Right at the start of the week it feels like a mammoth task to get through the whole week, whereas now we’re halfway through the week and you can see the end goal in sight and it’s a point in the competition where anything can happen.”
Ellis and Langridge took the first game 21-14 to place them on the cusp of a place in the last eight, before holding their nerve to win 21-15 in the second to complete what was a thrilling Thursday at the competition.
And with the pair now enjoying a long and productive partnership, 34-year-old Langridge says he knows exactly what makes them tick.
“Marcus and I do compliment each other quite well - the areas that are more well-suited to me aren’t so well-suited to Marcus, and it works on the flip side of that as well," he said.
“That’s why I think we work well as a partnership - we know what the other person’s doing most of the time, and we’re very gritty, resilient people.”
Smith was another one of Ellis’ partners to enjoy a day to savour in Birmingham, as they got proceedings off to the perfect start with a 21-15 21-10 win over Watanabe and Higashino early in the day.
But it wasn’t to be for Smith and Chloe Birch in the mixed doubles, as they succumbed to a disappointing defeat against world No.1 pairing Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan.
The home favourites battled defiantly and almost took the contest to a tantalising third set, but lost 22-20 in a hard-fought second to dash the home crowd’s hopes of a memorable English hat-trick of wins.
“We can take loads of confidence from how well we did against the world No.1s - obviously we would have loved to convert that second set because we worked really hard to get that opportunity,” Smith said.
“It’s difficult for me because it was obviously such a high after the mixed game this morning, but it’s not a huge low after that women’s match.
“Credit to how we played, and there are so many positives to take from it - I don’t want us both feeling down that we lost, and we just want to learn as much as we can from these experiences.”
Elsewhere among the top seeds on Thursday, there were wins for Chou Tien-chen in the men’s singles, Chen Yufei in the women’s and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in the men’s doubles.
But there was a major shock in the mixed doubles, as first seeds and world No.1s Zheng Si-wei and Huang Yaqiong were stunned by Robin Tabeling and Selena Piek after a scintillating performance from the dangerous Dutch duo.
The Yonex All England Championships continue tomorrow on quarter-final day, where Ellis, Smith and Langridge will be hoping to make it a fabulous Friday to remember as England bid for their first competition winner for 15 years.
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.