(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
Christo Popov: “I was flying on the court”
Date: 11/24/2021 3:40 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
The 2020 European Junior Champion, Christo Popov, has wasted no time in making a name for himself at the highest level after defeating Anthony Ginting at the Indonesia Open 2021.

The French teenager delivered a European Junior gold last year in the cold climate of Finland. Today in the tropical setting of Bali, Indonesia, Popov stunned one of the home favourites and Olympic bronze medallist, Anthony Ginting, with a straight-game victory, 21-17 21-18.

Comparisons have been made with Viktor Axelsen, who also scored big wins early in his career, defeating a certain Taufik Hidayat a decade ago when just 17 years of age. The future is bright for one of Europe’s top talents. 

Regarded as one of the fastest players in the world, the world number five had no answer to Popov’s proactive game. 

Ginting let the opening game slip with Popov grabbing four quick points at the end to seal an otherwise close battle. In the second game, Ginting was at one point 13-7 up, yet Popov was ready to fight until the end. Taking his chances and holding his nerve, the 19-year-old scored the biggest win of his career to date. 

Talking to BWF after the match, Popov could hardly contain his happiness.

-It’s the biggest win of my career. I’m so happy about this win, especially this year when I haven’t played as many tournaments in the men’s singles, after not making it into the main draw. I’m happy to win to get more points to raise my ranking and to be able to compete in these types of tournaments. I’m looking forward to taking on the top three players one day, said the world number 70.

I made it 
Despite the odds and the high-pressure nature of the match, Popov remained focused on that task at hand.

-I was thinking, he’s a world-class player. He has an Olympic medal. I just wanted to show my best level. I thought maybe I could take a game off him, and I know I shouldn’t compare myself to the world number five, but when I started to play. I felt really good on court, Popov explained. 

-On my side, I felt confident after winning the first game. I think I was flying on the court. I just managed to keep the shuttle in play, defended well and I made it, he added. 

The wait continues
The cherry on top would have been a win for his older brother, Toma Junior Popov. The two would have faced each other in a tournament for the very first time. However, the wait continues. 

Christo Popov now plays India’s Sai Praneeth B. who eliminated Toma Junior Popov 21-19 21-18. An opportunity to avenge his brother. 

-Seeing as my brother played Praneeth today, I will get some tips and those could be really useful going into the match, Popov stated with a grin. 

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