French Open: A Dream Gets Closer

A day after he’s won the biggest title of his career, Christo Popov surveyed the Adidas Arena, venue of the badminton competition for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Popov is in the reckoning as a possible qualifier in men’s singles and men’s doubles, and the venue represented not just a physical space but the realisation of a dream. On the eve of the YONEX French Open 2024, Test Event for Paris 2024, Popov could sense the destination getting closer.

The magnificent Adidas Arena.

“I’m very happy with the Olympics in Paris, it’s a really nice venue,” said Popov, winner of the German Open on Sunday. “I’ll try of course to qualify and I’ll be very happy to play in the hall. It’s been a big goal that we’ve set with my brother, and we are just a few months away from the end of the Olympic race, so I can’t wait to finish the race.

“Last week was pretty long, pretty tough and I could bring my first title at the World Tour Super 300. There were a lot of long matches; each day I could’ve lost. So it was a mental battle and I’m happy to bring my first World Tour title.”

The venue, which has a seating capacity of 8,000, will host badminton from 27 July to 5 August. After the conclusion of the badminton competition, it will host rhythmic gymnastics from 8 to 10 August, and then Para badminton and powerlifting at the Paralympic Games.

Carolina Marin testing the hall.

“It’s a big tournament, and it’s been special for us as French players,” said Popov. “It’s the first time it’s in this period, in March. We’ll see how it goes. Now we’re on the big stages, and it’s all about the little details … we are coming to the last five tournaments for qualification. It’s been a tough year with a lot of tournaments and a lot of pressure.”

Popov however doesn’t have the best of draws, as he faces the resurgent Shi Yu Qi. His brother Toma Junior doesn’t have an easy path as well, with his first round against Loh Kean Yew.

Top seed Viktor Axelsen, who has played only one tournament so far this season, has Priyanshu Rajawat to contend with. His compatriot Anders Antonsen, who has had a dream season so far with two titles, will take on Lee Chia Hao, who was promoted from the reserves.

Women’s singles top seed An Se Young, who has lately battled a right knee injury, looked fluent against Kim Ga Eun in practice. She faces Pornpawee Chochuwong, who has also had recent trouble with injury.

Promotions and Withdrawals

Men’s Singles: Lee Chia Hao and Zhao Jun Peng (in place of Ng Tze Yong and Rasmus Gemke)

Women’s Singles: Thet Htar Thuzar (Yeo Jia Min)

Men’s Doubles: Vinson Chiu/Joshua Yuan and Bjarne Geiss/Jan Colin Volker (Akira Koga/Taichi Saito and Rasmus Kjaer/Frederik Sogaard)

Women’s Doubles: Setyana Mapasa/Angerla Yu (Maiken Fruergaard/Sara Thygesen)

Click here to view the updated draw.

YONEX French Open 2024 starts today, with the first match scheduled at 5pm Kuala Lumpur time (UTC +8).

Fun fact: This is only Popov’s second French Open in men’s singles. His debut in the discipline came last year.

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