March 6 - The Yonex All England Open Championships opening stages got underway today at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena following yesterday's qualifiers, with the world's top players vying for one of the most prestigious titles in badminton.
The championships, which are one of just five Badminton World Federation (BWF) Superseries Premier events, is sure to attract big crowds throughout the tournament up until its culmination on Sunday (March 10).
In the men's doubles, England's unseeded pairing of Chris Adcock and Andrew Ellis are fresh from defeating number one seeds and reigning world champions Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark at the European Championships in Moscow last month and will be looking to carry their momentum through to the All England Open Championships.
"It was the best win of our career," said Adcock.
"We have come close to these guys so many times.
"They are the best pair in the world right now and if we can continue to play at that level we will be really happy"
Ellis added: "We want to do this week in week out against the best players in the world."
But after being handed a tough draw against second seeds and 2007 champions Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong of Malaysia, it will take a similar performance to see the duo make it through to the second round.
Along with Adcock and Ellis, English National Champions Chris Langridge and Peter Mills will also be a potentially tricky draw for the top seeds.
Adcock will also be competing in the mixed doubles alongside on-and-off court partner Gabby White, after the pair won their qualifying round tie yesterday, but it's another daunting task that faces him after they were drawn against world number one pair Xu Chen and Ma Jin.
Defending champions Tontowi Ahmad and Lilyana Natsir are number two seeds for the mixed doubles, with world and Olympic champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei seeded number five.
In the men's singles, Malaysia's Olympic silver medal-winning Lee Chong Wei will be the man to watch after winning the first two BWF Superseries tournaments that have taken place so far this year in South Korea and his home country.
With Chinese great Lin Dan absent from the tournament, Wei will be confident of winning the All England Open title for the third time this Sunday, but with 24 of the world's top 28 involved in the Championships, it will be no easy feat for the 30-year-old.
Chinese players should prove to be the Malaysians main competition, with second seed Chen Long, third seed Du Pengyu and 2008 winner Chen Jin all out to get their hands on the title.
Six-time national champion Rajiv Ouseph crashed out at the qualifying stage yesterday at the hands of India's Sourabh Varma, destroying the home nation's chances of a men's singles title this year.
In the women's singles, defending champion, Olympic gold medallist and number one seed Li Xuerui of China is the clear favourite to retain the title, but with three former champions in her midst, she won't be taking anything for granted this week.
2009 champion Wang Yihan, 2011 champion Wang Shixian and Danish two-time winner Tine Baun, who will be competing in her last tournament before retirement, will all be in the mix for the women's singles title.
In the women's doubles, last year's beaten finalists at the NIA and 2011 winners Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, who are also world champions, lead the seeding, followed by Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen of Denmark.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
February 2013: Yonex and All England Championships celebrate 30th anniversary