Photo: Badminton Europe/Mark Phelan
Christo Popov: He was a very impressive, talented, and creative player
Date: 6/26/2020 7:53 AM
Published by : BEC Staff

Christo Popov is one of the most exciting prospects in world badminton. Having just turned 18 this year, he has a World Junior Championship silver medal and won his first senior singles title at the Italian International. Has this pause in play been a blessing or curse for the rising star?

In addition to the above achievements, Popov also won the French national title and has been steadily climbing the world rankings, reaching his career-best of 77. One would understand if the young French talent would be itching to keep building on this outstanding foundation. However, we have seen examples of players taking an unavoidable period out of the game and coming back stronger, notably world number one, Kento Momota in 2015. A feat he needs to repeat again following a car crash earlier this year, in his bid for Olympic glory in Tokyo. From this, Popov knows that he needs to remain psychologically strong when saying. 

- Of course, the tournament cancellations are very hard to accept for me and all badminton players. But because of today’s situation, we must accept it. We can use the long time off-court to train differently and prepare even harder on the physical side. It is tough at the beginning as you don’t know when all this is going to end and you don’t know when you are coming back on court so that is the difficult part psychologically that you have to work on. 

-I am lucky because I am not alone during this period. I have my father who is my coach and my brother Toma Junior with me.

Read: Jørgensen to retire at Denmark Open

I was tempted

Christo Popov has made quick progress up the rankings despite still being a teenager. In this rare instance, there was a growing option to play in the European Championships. Asked whether he was tempted by this or were the World Junior and European Junior Championships always the target, Popov stated. 

-Yes, I was tempted. I wanted to play the European Championships and compete against some very good players like Viktor Axelsen and Anders Antonsen. Of course, the World and European Junior Championships were major targets in the year, but I have to prepare my transition from junior to senior badminton which is difficult. 

Popov has already played some really tough opponents. But when asked who in his career has been the standout opponent that left a strong impression on him, he answered.

-I would say Kunlavut Vittidsarn from Thailand. He was a very impressive, talented, and creative player.

Read: Ben Lane: My body couldn’t deal with it

Finding your own style 

It is a scary thought that Popov still has three years of gaining experience and developing his game before he is 21. When thinking about the one part of his game he is happy about this year, and one part of his game he is working on, Popov explains. 

-I think my physical condition was pretty good this year which led me to have good results. Still, we have to work on every detail including physical, technical, tactical but also studying the game and finding your own style.

Part of this development may be to travel to other parts of the world for training and sparring. For example, players often go abroad to camps in Asia. Popov is open to this opportunity in the future. 

-Yes, I think it will give me good experience going to train with the Asians. We are working on it.

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