Wildcards Amke Fischer and Luke Griffiths produced the match-of-the-day as they shocked second seeds Zuzana Severinova and Morten Jaksland in the Mixed A Doubles.
Two of the leading contenders in the Men’s A Doubles, Kresten Hougaard and Morten Jaksland, as well as Cornelius Radermacher and Calum Reid, narrowly avoided shocks as well on a day of high drama in Belgium.
The Women’s A Doubles final line-up has also been confirmed with top seeds Bettina Bugl and Christine Seehofer facing second seeds Nicole Eisler and Zuzana Severinova.
Fischer and Griffiths Produce Biggest Shock of the Day
On a day of consistent drama, the best was saved until the very end. Luke Griffiths and Amke Fischer were only competing in the Mixed Doubles after receiving a wildcard.
Luke Griffiths is the current Under 16 World Champion and also the younger brother of current Under 21 World Champion Leon Griffiths. The youngest sibling proved today that he is ready to make the step up to the elite level.
For Griffiths, this was the first-ever foray into Mixed Doubles on the International stage. For Fischer, this was a first Mixed Doubles tournament since the 2017 European Championships. No one had even mentioned them in any of the pre-tournament predictions.
Their opening match was a comfortable, +22 victory over Julia Knake and Alwin Krist. That win set up the match-in-question against Severinova and Jaksland.
At 15-4 in the table tennis, it became clear immediately that Griffiths and Fischer were going to test the second seeds. Severinova and Jaksland have not won two IWT titles this season for no reason though and they battled back, eventually getting 11 points in the table tennis.
15-year-old Griffiths particularly shone in the badminton, outclassing the other three players and dominating from the back of the court. The 21-12 badminton gave them a +19 lead heading into Severinova and Jaksland’s two strongest sports.
Squash was a fascinating contest because of the tactical move to play Griffiths first. This meant he was able to get 11 for the pair as a comfortable benchmark. Fischer then pulled out a superb performance against Jaksland to reach 17 before Jaksland reached 21.
That left the underdogs needing just seven in tennis. Despite noticeably being the stronger tennis pair, Jaksland and Severinova simply could not pull far enough ahead. In front of a packed crowd just after 10 pm local time, Fischer and Griffiths pulled off the unthinkable and are rewarded with a spot in the semi-finals.
What Else Happened in the Mixed Doubles?
Outside of that match, the Mixed Doubles was a surprisingly low-key event. Top seeds Christine Seehofer and Dan Busby cruised through their opening match against Stine Jacobsen and Cornelius Radermacher, a 21-5 squash set proving to be the key differential.
They will meet Belgian duo Lieselot De Bleeckere and Peter Duyck in the semi-finals. The Belgians first battled past Betting Bugl and Luke Barnes, before next taking out 4th seeds Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Rene Lindberg without dropping a set all day.
Griffiths and Fischer will play 3rd seeds Astrid Reimer-Kern and Kresten Hougaard in their semi-final. Reimer-Kern and Hougaard are the form players coming into this tournament after winning the IWT Berlin Open two weeks ago and comfortably came through their opener against Silke Altmann and Paul Sach.
Favourites Avoid Defeat in Nail-Biting Men’s A Contests
Morten Jaksland narrowly avoided being at the hands of two shocks in one day, as he and Kresten Hougaard survived in a gripping quarter-final against Dan Busby and Peter Duyck.
Needing 17 in tennis, Busby and Duyck looked well-on-course to upset the top seeds before some last-minute heroics from Hougaard snatched victory back from the jaws of defeat.
Much-fancied unseeded duo Cornelius Radermacher and Calum Reid also nearly bit the dust in their first match of the day. Trailing 17-13 in the tennis to Korbinian Heim and Joerg Kanonenberg it seemed as though the dark horses were set for an early exit. However, six points in a row secured the 19 points they needed and booked their spot in the next round.
Radermacher and Reid then went on to eliminate second seeds Luke Barnes and Jack Bishop in a much more straightforward contest.
In their semi-final on Friday, they’ll face French duo Arnaud Genin and Cedric Junillon. Racketlon retirement seems to have helped Junillon as he played superbly alongside Genin alongside his return. The French pair first knocked out Marc Grau and Alwin Krist before taking out 4th seeds Ray Jordan and Duncan Stahl.
In the top half of the draw, Jaksland and Hougaard will face Paul Sach and Paul Twisterling in the semi-finals.
The German-Dutch duo battled through two lengthy encounters, first against Rene Lindberg and Christian Wiessner and later over Pieter De Bleeckere and Luke Penttinen.
Seeds Triumph in Women’s A Doubles
Order was more-or-less restored in the Women’s Doubles as the two seeded pairs made it through to tomorrow’s final.
Top seeds Bettina Bugl and Christine Seehofer did not have it all their own way though and were pushed in both of their matches.
First, against Lieselot De Bleeckere and Stine Jacobsen, they won by just 11, although made it look very comfortable in the tennis.
It was an extremely tough semi-final against the experienced German pair Silke Altmann and Amke Fischer. The first three sports were close but left the Austrians leading by eight and needing 14 for the win.
Altmann and Fischer would not make it easy though, eventually losing 18-14 – just four points away from ending the unbeaten run of Bugl and Seehofer.
In the bottom half, it was a tournament to remember for Natalia Prado and Anna Wall. The youngsters reached their first World Doubles Championship semi-final. They fell to second seeds Nicole Eisler and Zuzana Severinova whose dominant squash performances not only helped them win their semi-final but also helped them win their opening match against Anna-Klara Ahlmer and the returning Racketlon Hall of Famer Lilian Druve.
That leaves Bettina Bugl and Christine Seehofer against Nicole Eisler and Zuzana Severinova for the World title. Seehofer has won this crown four different times but never before with Bugl. Severinova almost beat the pair earlier this year but playing with Hannah Boden. Anything could happen, especially in a World Doubles Championships final.
What’s Happened on Day One and What’s to Come on Finals Day?
Relive the first day of the World Doubles Championships with the Live Blog.
The full results from day one of the World Doubles Championships are available here.
Key Times for Finals Day
- 09:00CET – Mixed A Doubles Semi-Finals
- 11:00CET – Men’s A Doubles Semi-Finals
- 13:45CET – Mixed A Doubles Final
- 17:45CET – Women’s A Doubles Final
- 18:00CET – Men’s A Doubles Final
The pre-tournament predictions are available here.
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Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer