The step was too high. Christo Popov, winner of the German Open last Sunday – his first victory on the BWF circuit – only held off a few points before being left behind by the Chinese Yu Qi Shi, imperial despite the encouragement of the French public.

Wandered and very regularly pushed into the baseline on his backhand, Christo Popov did not have control over the exchanges and – from 5-4 for his opponent in the first set – never led in the score, both in the first and second set. A burst of pride in the middle of the second set allowed him to believe in it again, but Yu Qi Shin did not give in to finally win without trembling, 21-14, 21-15. Like his big brother Tomi, Christo Popov will not see the second round of these French Open in singles. However, he will have the opportunity to qualify for the round of 16 with his brother Tomi, since they will compete in the doubles tournament together.

“It was hard. The fact that it was fresh played a big role. I don’t have too many regrets because I gave everything on the pitch but I’m happy with my level of play, and that’s what’s most important,” summed up the French number 1 in the mixed zone after his match.

French number 1 and provisionally qualified for the Olympic Games (with his current ranking, Editor’s note), Christo Popov played his first match in the Adidas Arena, which will host badminton at the Olympic Games next July-August. “It was very fun to play. The playing conditions are really good. The room is magnificent and I adapted well.