Lauren Smith felt her and Marcus Ellis let themselves be dominated as they fell to semi-final defeat at the All England Championships. The mixed doubles pairing, in their second successive last four appearance, fell to a 21-10 21-18 defeat to Japan's Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino. The world No.6 duo, who were beaten by Ellis and Smith in a famous contest 25-15 25-10 at last year's tournament, made sure there would be no repeat as they took control of the match from the early running and never relinquished it. And Britain's world No.9 pair were left with regrets after fighting so hard in the week to reach the final four. "We had the attack maybe twice in the whole game," Smith said. "The rest of the time, we were just lifting and in defence. As good as your defence is, eventually the ones attacking are going to win. "When we switched ends, we said we needed to push up the court and take the advantage they had over us. In parts, we did do that. "That's probably the biggest positive I could take, that we managed to slightly change the way the game was going. I still feel disappointed with the performance." Ellis and Smith struggled in the first game, falling to a 17-4 deficit, but won four of the next five points to begin to get into a rhythm. However, despite a mini revival, Endo and Watanabe continued to pile the pressure on and took the opening game 21-10 in 14 minutes. The Brits started the second game in perfect fashion by taking the opening point, but a huge smash from Watanabe maintained an even beginning as the two pairs traded points to 3-3. In a noticeably quicker game, both duos battled to gain the ascendancy but it was the Japanese who appeared to take control as they won a string of points to lead 11-7 at the interval. Ellis and Smith refused to go down without a fight though, as they battled back to within one point of their opponents at 17-16. But they ultimately could not do enough to prevent defeat as an immensely long rally ended in a trademark Watanabe smash which put the Japanese into the final. That victory means it is a clean sweep of Japanese pairs in the men's, women's and mixed doubles finals in Birmingham.
Sportsbeat 2021
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