Photo: BWF & Badminton Photo
French glory in Rennes
Date: 10/25/2023 7:02 PM
Published by : Gaia Diakhite Becerra (BEC)
“It’s one of the best days of my life” confessed Merkle.

Arnaud Merkle's journey to glory on day two at the French Open 2023 was nothing short of inspiring. In his debut Super 750 tournament, the Frenchman achieved a stunning 21-15 21-18 victory against India's Lakshya Sen.

Merkle's road to the French Open was marked by adversity. A hip injury sustained back in December 2022 cast a shadow over his career, leading to months of demanding rehabilitation.

Merkle recalled those tough months, “At some point, I thought that my career was over”.

“I had a lot of work with my team, the physio, the French Federation’s staff who helped me so much. I feel really good and confident now. My hip is better, it has recovered. I worked so hard which is why I’m so happy and emotional. So, I’m really grateful and I know that every time I step on court is a new chance. I work very hard to be able to be on court, so I enjoy those moments.”

Playing on home turf in Rennes, France, brought a tremendous advantage – a booming and ever-present home crowd. 

Merkle recognized this incredible support, saying, “I’m so happy. It’s just amazing to play in front of the French crowd, it’s my first ever French Open and the crowd helped me so much. It was tough, he [Lakshya Sen] was playing some quality shots in attack during the second game. I managed to remain calm, wait for my chance and managed to take them when it mattered most.”

A day of many firsts

But the day of triumph didn't end with Merkle. His compatriot, Toma Junior Popov, made his debut victory at the French Open, in front of family and friends.

Here’s what Popov had to say, “I’m more than satisfied, I’m just really happy that I served on the wave of the Denmark Open”

“[The crowd] gave me an extra push, extra confidence. It can also be tricky sometimes because it adds an extra pressure, but for me today it was helpful, and I used it in the best way I could.”

Popov's upcoming match against the second-seeded Indonesian, Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, promises to be a thrilling contest with a quarterfinal spot on the line.

The French's triumphant day concluded with Margot Lambert and Anne Tran, the women's doubles pair. Last-minute changes in the draw led them to face a relatively easier opponent in Estonia's Marran/Rüütel, whom they overcame with an impressive 21-9 21-8 score. 

“We will also show tomorrow’s opponent that it will not be easy to get past us. We want to go the furthest possible [in the draw] and we 100% believe we can do it” smiled Lambert.

French glory shone brightly in Rennes, and these players are certainly rewarding the public at the Glaz Arena for their energy. 
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