After a hiatus from the tour to accommodate the brilliant 2018 World Singles & Teams Championships, the IWT Swiss Open returns to the tour as Racketlon heads back to Zurich. A stellar field will be assembling featuring Swiss hopes and big-hitting international challengers for the titles. 90 players in 19 categories (including a Girls U10s!) will compete in Zurich and all the draws can be found here.
Hougaard Looking to Go One Step Further
The last time the Swiss Open took place, home hero Patrick Lorenz defeated Denmark’s Kresten Hougaard by a solitary point in an enthralling Men’s A Final. Kresten is (hopefully) fully recovered from the injury that ruled him out of the King of Rackets final a few weeks ago, and he will need to be at his best to overcome the challenges that he faces.
However, Kresten will have been boosted by the draw, which placed third seed and rising Racketlon star, Arnaud Genin, in the bottom half of the draw. Despite this bonus, Kresten faces a challenge with his first match against the winner of Mandrin Mouchet and Oliver Buhler. If it all goes to seeding then fourth seed, Bernhard Pilsz, would await in the semi-finals, assuming he comes past the winner of Adarsh Narayanaswamy and Raphael Paglia.
The bottom half of the draw looks brutal. Second seed Dan Busby (who believes that draws are out to get second seeds/him) will open his account against the winner of Damien Andre or local wildcard Dimitri Steinmann. For third seed, Arnaud, he faces the winner of what looks like being one of the most intriguing matches of the weekend as Nicolas Lenggenhager takes on Simon Vaclahavsky in the first round. Nicolas is a talented Badminton player, while Simon is a squash player with the pedigree to dismantle Dan Busby when they met in Prague in April. This mismatch in the middle sports means it is likely this match will come down to the TT and the Tennis. A classic Racketlon encounter!
Arnaud awaits for this pair, and then you would expect that winner to face Dan Busby, so whoever emerges into the final from the bottom half of the draw will have earned their stripes!
Reimer-Kern Out to Defend Swiss Open Title
Astrid Reimer-Kern is the defending champion from 2017 and she arrives in Zurich confident that she can once again emerge victorious from a Women’s A Round Robin. Having won the 2017 event, Astrid also came second in the Women’s Elite at the World Championships in Zurich last August and she comes into this event following on from victory in the IWT Berlin Open last month.
She will face the challenge of Kirstin Kaptein, Silke Altmann, and her good friend, top seed and home hopeful (no pressure) Nicole Eisler. It came down to a battle between Nicole and Astrid in 2017, that day the German emerged victorious by 9 points, can Nicole turn it around in 2019 or will someone else upset our expectations?
Newly Crowed World Champions Have to Deal With New Pressures!
The weight of a World Crown can weigh heavy, and for Kresten Hougaard (Men’s A Doubles) and Dan Busby (Mixed A Doubles), they walk on court for the first time as World Champions. Yet without their partners from the recent World Doubles Championships, they will both face the pairings they defeated in Oudenaarde, alone. Kresten at least will have company. He is partnering Dan in the Men’s A and in their four pairing Round Robin event, Kresten will face the pairing of Arnaud Genin and Cedric Junillon, less than a month after defeating them in the World Championships final.
Dan will, however, carry his burden without the camaraderie of someone who knows what it is like. The newly crowned Mixed A Doubles champion joins forces with Silke Altmann and, should they overcome Nicole Eisler & Arnaud Genin in their semi-final, will surely face Astrid Reimer-Kern and Kresten Hougaard. Astrid and Kresten were a fancied pair heading into World Championships and it needed a Herculean squash effort from Dan to really deny them during a gripping final in Oudenaarde. They are second seeds here, but they are without a doubt the favourites. They open up against Kirstein Kaptain & Nicolas Lenggenhager.
Finally, the Ladies A Doubles will feature a four pair Round Robin. Silke Altmann & Esther Dubendorfer are top seeds, but the pairings are nicely varied and this event will be very competitive. It is quite likely that no pairing will go undefeated throughout!
The full FIR World Tour is available here.
James Pope / Writer
Image Credit / Inge Omey