(Photo: Badminton Photo)
Toma Junior Popov - A star is born
Date: 11/1/2020 8:05 PM
Published by : Yash Sharma
The 22-year-old Toma Junior Popov defeated the third seed Mark Caljouw for the first time in three meetings to claim the men’s singles crown at the SaarLorLux Open 2020. 

The tall Frenchman achieved the greatest victory of his budding career. He also took down the veteran Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus and Max Weisskirchen on his way to the title. 

He started well in the first game to quickly lead 17-10. The occasion seemed to have gotten the better of him when he allowed the Dutch to make a comeback. However, he settled his nerves in time to win the opener 22-20, after saving a game point. 

The ever-shifting momentum
In the second game, Caljouw had huge leads of 8-0 and 14-4 but he got a little too comfortable. Popov steadily closed the gap and was just two points away from the title at 19-18.

It was now Caljouw’s turn to show determination. He scored three consecutive points to force a decider. It was a close affair till 13-13. Popov broke off at that point and won eight out of the next nine points to win 21-14. 

Looking at his clinical performance today, there is a lot more to come in the future.

A one-sided Danish affair
Jeppe Bay/Lasse Molhede outplayed their younger compatriots Daniel Lundgaard/Mathias Thyrri to win their biggest title as a pair. Ahead 11-3 at the mid-game interval, they comfortably won the opening game 21-13. The young Danes did well to briefly lead 14-13 in the second. 

However, Bay and Molhede produced seven straight points to bring up a whole host of match points. They converted on their second opportunity to win 21-15 in 33 minutes. 

Given a title in only their second tournament together and a sparkling performance against Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov at the Denmark Open, this will be an interesting pair to watch in the coming months. 

The Stoeva sisters 
Gabriela Stoeva/Stefani Stoeva played an impressive tournament to win their sixth Super 100 title. In doing so, they also reclaimed the title they had won two years ago. 

The 2015 European Games champions were too strong for the young Danish pair Amalie Magelund/Freja Ravn. The Stoeva sisters scored seven consecutive points in both games. They ran away with the title 21-8, 21-11 in just 31 minutes. 

Thailand Open 2021
With the conclusion of the SaarLorLux Open, the top-tier badminton will return with the Asian leg in Thailand next January. Let us hope that all the top athletes will be back in the run-up to the World Tour Finals and the Tokyo Olympics.  
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