Will the next European Star come from France? (Update)

Will the next European Star come from France? (Update) - Title Image

A year ago I analyzed the prospects of France of having the next European star in the men’s singles. As one year has passed, I will take a look at the developments of the players from the original post.

Strength Developments

Viktor Axelsen and Anders Antonsen

Again I will compare the strengths for the French players with the strengths of Viktor Axelsen and Anders Antonsen. As in the previous post, the strengths will be calculated at every start of a calendar month and then plotted against the age of the player at the time. Of course it is difficult to compare strengths from different points in time. As the strengths are normalized to the average strength of a top-10 player, I hope the values will be comparable.

I will use a smaller line width for the data that was already present in the previous post, i.e. data that is more than one year old.

Axelsen and Antonsen

We can see that Axelsen had a very good run recently, his most recent strength value in the monthly ranking peaked at a value of over 27. Antonsen has stagnated at a high level of around 20.

Toma Junior Popov

Comparison to Toma Junior Popov

One can see that he had a weak first half of the past year but then had a better second half. He won the Orleans Masters. All together this allowed him to return to his former level. However he could not close the gap towards the Danish players.

Arnaud Merkle

Comparison to Arnaud Merkle

Just like Toma Junior Popov, Merkle also had his ups and downs and could not catch up to the Danes. However he had a good first half of the past year and a not so good lest half year.

Christo Popov

Comparison to Christo Popov

Christo Popov is still close to the two Danes.

Yanis Gaudin, Sacha Leveque, Enogat Roy

Comparison to Gaudin, Leveque and Roy

All three are now around 19 years of age. During the last year their strength values have stagneted. So they will probably not play a big role in top-level international badminton in the future.

Alex Lanier

The final player in this line-up. Born in January 2005, he has not been in any final of a European Junior Championships. In 2020 he reached the round of last 16. But he is still eligible for future editions of the tournament.

Comparison to Alex Lanier

Lanier won the Italian International and the Estonien International. His strength value improved and is still between Axelsen and Antonsen, though now he is much closer to Antonsen than to Axelsen.


Finally a plot that compares all four individually discussed players to the Danes:

Comparison to T. Popov, Merkle, C. Popov and Lanier

I can only repeat the caption to this plot from one year ago: This shows the huge potential by Christo Popov and Alex Lanier, being at comparable strengths to the two Danes.

And, as in the original post, the same plot, this time not ordered by age of the player, but by the date.

Comparison to T. Popov, Merkle, C. Popov and Lanier

The curves for the French players start more to the right as they are younger. There are no common peaks or dips visible, so it is safe to assume that strengths from different dates are comparable.

European Rankings

In the original post we also took a look at the European and the World rankings when only taking players born in 2002 or later into account. The European rankings for today, thus exactly one year later, are as follows:

Rank Strength Matches Born Name
1 15.62 49 2002 FRA Christo Popov
2 13.33 118 2002 DEN Magnus Johannesen
3 12.38 93 2005 FRA Alex Lanier
4 10.90 50 2002 SWE Gustav Bjorkler
5 10.58 77 2003 DEN Mads Juel Møller
6 10.51 81 2003 DEN Christopher Vittoriani
7 10.39 62 2003 DEN Victor Ørding Kauffmann
8 10.30 68 2002 FIN Joakim Oldorff
9 10.11 66 2002 FRA Yanis Gaudin
10 10.08 44 2003 FRA Gregoire Deschamp
11 9.96 83 2002 GER Matthias Kicklitz
12 9.58 47 2003 ENG Cholan Kayan
13 9.51 13 2003 ENG Ethan Rose
14 9.49 61 2003 FRA Amaury Lievre
15 9.20 12 2004 AZE Dicky Dwi Pangestu

The gap between Popov and the second ranked player, Magnus Johannesen from Denmark, has closed down a bit, as Johannessen could improve his strength value by more than one unit. Second, Alex Lanier rose from rank 4 to rank 3 and is still the only player in the top 14 not born in the years 2002 or 2003, actually born in 2005, making him ranked higher than all other Europeans two or threes older than him, except the aforementioned Christo Popov and Magnus Johannesen.

World Rankings

The World rankings for today are as follows:

Rank Strength Matches Born Name
1 15.62 49 2002 FRA Christo Popov
2 14.08 12 2004 JPN Shun Saito
3 14.04 20 2003 INA Yohanes Saut Marcelino
4 13.91 51 2002 IND Priyanshu Rajawat
5 13.85 31 2002 TPE Liao Jhuo-Fu
6 13.80 65 2002 IND Meiraba Meiraba Luwang
7 13.37 19 2004 HKG Jason Gunawan
8 13.33 118 2002 DEN Magnus Johannesen
9 13.06 58 2004 MAS Justin Hoh Shou Wei
10 12.39 23 2002 IND Ravi
11 12.38 93 2005 FRA Alex Lanier
12 12.35 49 2002 MAS Jacky Jing Hong Kok
13 12.34 19 2003 IND Rithvik Sanjeevi Satish Kumar
14 12.30 58 2005 INA Alwi Farhan
15 12.07 13 2003 JPN Koshiro Moriguchi
16 11.86 18 2002 INA Sulistio Tegar
17 11.63 14 2003 SRI Viren Nettasinghe
18 11.60 13 2004 JPN Koya Iwano
19 11.53 11 2002 SIN Ming Hong Lim
20 11.51 15 2004 THA Panitchaphon Teeraratsakul

First there is a lot of fluctuations on this list. Some players from last year’s list have failed to play enough matches to be included. Christo Popov is still the leader. Alex Lanier rose to rank 11. But again it is difficult to compare him to other players in his age group, as there have not been many junior tournaments in Asia during the last months. More than one year ago, but still not as many as usual. Note that Chinese and Korean players are completely absent from this list for example. A new entry on this list is Shun Saito from Japan, who I have never heard of. But given his age, he is definitely a player to keep an eye on.


One year after my initial analysis the French players in general have not improved as much as one might have wished. Nevertheless Christo Popov and Alex Lanier are players I would expect to reach world-class levels soon.