The IWT Czech Open begins tomorrow with a host of Racketlon’s elite taking to the courts in Prague.
World No.2 Morten Jaksland leads the Men’s Elite category while World No.1 Christine Seehofer fronts the Women’s Elite class.
With the draws now made, we look at whether anyone can stop the top seeds from claiming the title.
Genin and Jaksland drawn in the same quarter
With 24 players competing in the Men’s A, the eight seeded players get a bye through to the second round. Perhaps the most intriguing quarter of the men’s draw sees Morten Jaksland and Arnaud Genin together.
The two are the most in-form players so far this season, although Jaksland got the better of Genin in their first meeting last month in Lanzarote. That is Genin’s only loss in his last 14 matches.
If Jaksland is to reach the quarter-finals he’ll need to take down either Michal Horacek or Steffan Neumann in the first round. Genin will play either Tommi Laine or Gustav Moller who are meeting for the first time.
The second quarter sees Nikola Mikac and Benjamin Graenicher as the two seeds. No.3 seed Graenicher could face his fellow Swiss player Oliver Buhler in his opener as Buhler plays Rene Lindberg.
Graenicher holds a 2-0 head-to-head record against Mikac if the pair were to meet in the quarter-finals. The last meeting in 2017 was a close affair though, with Graenicher winning by just four in Latvia. For the pair to meet, Mikac will also have to win his first match against either Ola Emriksson or wildcard Max Plettenberg.
Youngsters Schopf and Penttinen set for 10th career meeting?
Two of racketlon’s brightest young talents could meet for the tenth time as Emanuel Schopf and Luka Penttinen have landed in the same quarter.
Schopf will open against either Bengt Sonnert or Kamil Stanek while Penttinen plays either Marin Sopko or Andreas Escher.
If the pair both advance to the quarter-finals then it will be their 10th career meeting. They met three-times alone last year, with Schopf winning two of those. It was Penttinen who won the most recent meeting in November though, triumphing by +13 in Austria.
World No. 4 Dan Busby – making his season debut at the Czech Open – and Rav Rykowski make up the final two seeds. Marco Genzel and Bernhard Pilsz play in round one to meet Rykowski with Busby set to face either Greg Lorkiewicz or Simon Vaclahovsky.
Can anyone stop the eight seeds from reaching the quarter-finals or will it be business as usual in Prague?
High-quality field led by Christine Seehofer in Prague
World No.1 Christine Seehofer is the leading star in Prague in a draw which features six of the world’s top-10.
Seehofer begins the eight-person draw against table-tennis specialist Kirsten Kaptein, a player she has beaten on two previous occasions.
The second match sees Anna-Klara Ahlmer take on wildcard Virag Sakovics for the first time in her career. Both players are taking part in their second tournament of the year with Ahlmer playing the Club La Santa Open and Sakovics taking part in the Vienna Classics.
In the bottom half, World No.9 Hannah Boden takes on Emmie Danielsson. This is not only both players first tournament of the year, but is also the first time the two have played each other. For Danielsson, this is only a third tournament at the elite level.
The standout match of the opening round comes last as World No.3 Bettina Bugl takes on home favourite and World No.7 Zuzana Severinova. The two young stars are meeting for the sixth time, although they last played each other back in August 2017.
Alongside the rankings advantage, Bugl also holds a 4-1 lead in their head-to-head. Both players have improved since their last meeting nearly two years ago though, and this could be a superb match.
As with every tournament she enters, Christine Seehofer is the woman to beat. Will anyone end her three-year singles unbeaten streak or will she pick up another World Tour title?
The full Czech Open draws and schedule are available here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer