Using Opera 48.0.2685.35 while writing this post, only two things remaining for Opera to become my fav browser.
If you middle-click a link, it will open in a new tab.
I am using uBlock Origin to block ads, and it works really well. You can block popups from Preferences > Websites. You can make exceptions to that as well, if you need to.
Usually, Ctrl+click will open a link in a new [in the background] tab, and Shift+Ctrl+click will open a link in a new tab [in front of all other tabs].
@concretable- the thing is, "coded" links aren't rendered as standard html hyperlinks so you may click on it as you wish but it will only be a selection as it will be rendered as normal text by the browser. So I have to lift my hand and use the finger to hold ctrl key to open it in a new tab.
About the pop-ups I am using ublock origin along with Popup Blocker (strict) by Jermy-Schomery on Opera (Win8.1 Pro x64)
And have enabled "Do not allow any sites to show pop-ups" in the settings. But still its not effective, so I suggest Opera gives an option to disable all pop-ups out of the box, at least for advanced users.