(Photo: Badminton Europe)
Five to watch in 2020
Date: 1/6/2020 10:17 AM
Published by : Alan Raftery
Christo Popov, France.

The youngest of the Popov brothers at only 17, he made a seamless transition from junior to senior badminton in 2019. His junior career reached it’s peak, when winning the silver medal at the World Junior Championships in Kazan, Russia. The first European to do so in the boy’s singles since Viktor Axelsen in 2011. 

Popov then began to achieve promising results at the senior events on the European circuit. Most recently he has won his first title at the Italian International, which is a massive milestone for a player so young. One can only imagine what new successes await this French talent. 

Max Flynn and Matthew Clare, England.

Max Flynn, 21, announced himself on the scene when achieving a men’s doubles silver medal at the 2017 European Junior Championships, in Mulhouse, France, with partner Callum Hemming. Playing now with Matthew Clare, their first big run of 2019 came at the Belarus International when reaching the final and giving world number 23 Chinese pair Zhang Nan and Ou Xuan Yi a close match. 

Most recently, they defeated Irish Open champions Peter Kaesbauer and Jones Rolphy Jansen from Germany in Milan. The signs are there that this pair are developing fast and may flourish in 2020. 

Julie Dawall Jakobsen, Denmark.

Gaining a silver medal at the 2015 European Junior Championships, she finally got the gold in 2017. This season Jakobsen featured in two International Challenge finals, wherein a career-high win she defeated former India Open champion Porntip Buranaprasertsuk to win the Finnish Open title. The 21-year-old will be looking to step up once more in 2020. 

Rodion Alimov and Alina Davletova, Russia.

Both Alimov and Davletova hail from Ufa, Russia, and have played with each other since they were 13 years of age. At the 2016 World Junior Championships in Bilbao, they narrowly lost out on winning a medal. The following year they won the European Junior Championships in 2017. 

At senior level, they have shown no signs of stopping their upward trajectory, winning White Nights, the Dubai International and the Super 300 event, Syed Modi International. They have defeated a selection of world top 10 pairs and are certainly a pair to watch as they fight for their place in Tokyo 2020. 

Emma Karlsson and Johanna Magnussen, Sweden. 

The 2017 women’s doubles European Junior Champions, Karlsson and Magnusson made history for Sweden, as they were the first to achieve this feat since 1987. The pair have really kicked on in 2019, reaching four tournament finals. They took the title at the Norwegian International. 2020 may be the year, where they continue growing as a pair and add to their trophy cabinet. 
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