England’s top two singles’ players moved serenely into the second round of the 100th All England Open here in Birmingham.
Andrew Smith, the world No 26, made short work of Holland’s Eric Pang 21-10, 21-11 in 20 swift minutes while Rajiv Ouseph, England’s No 1, beat Matthieu Lo Ying Ping, of France, 21-17, 21-19, having clawed back an 8-2 deficit in the second game.
The tough matches start on Thursday, though. Smith plays former Olympic champion Taufik Hidaya while Ouseph tackles China’s Jin Chen, the No 3 seed. Chen had to save a match point against India’s Dionysius Rumbaka.
Smith, who trains at the Kuala Lumpur Racket Club after several indifferences with Badminton England, said: "I’m not 100 per cent but I’m better. It was okay today, there is just a tiny bit of pain. I came here today on the basis of just having a hit and seeing if it was okay.”
The Hampshire-born right-hander was making his first foray onto court since falling at the semi-final stages of the English Nationals five weeks ago. And despite going 3-0 down in the opener, he looked a shadow of the player that lost to Carl Baxter in Manchester. Using the smash to clinical effect, Smith managed to reel off a succession of winners.
Smith added: "I didn’t possibly think I could win, let alone win how I did. It went well.”
Earlier Gabby White and Jenny Wallwork beat Jung Ye Na and Yoo Hyun-Young 16-21, 21-17, 21-18 in a tense 58-minute battle to start off England’s doubles campaign.
The Leeds pair – regarded as the future of British Badminton after high-profile retirements in the last few years – came back from 12-10 down in the third to become the first home pair to move into the second round.
China are defending last year’s five-title clean sweep.