A strong Saturday performance from Kresten Hougaard has seen the World No.3 return to the IWT Swiss Open final.
He competed in 2017’s final, the last time the tournament was held, losing by one point to Switzerland’s Patrick Lorenz.
This year the Dane will take on French star Arnaud Genin for the first time.
In the Women’s A singles, Astrid Reimer-Kern’s title defence is up-and-running in style. She defeated Nicole Eisler and Kirsten Kaptein on day one to set up a showdown with fellow German Silke Altmann for the title on Sunday.
Four Seeds Reach Men’s A Semi-Finals
It was a fairly routine Saturday in the Men’s A as the four seeded players all advanced to the semi-finals with few problems.
With the four seeds all receiving byes through the opening round, that left four first-round matches. Frenchman Mandrin Mouchet came through the tricky test of home favourite Oliver Buhler, dominating the middle-two sports to need just one going into tennis.
That set Mouchet up with a quarter-final against Kresten Hougaard. While the Frenchman was able to win the badminton 21-5, Hougaard won the other three sports, advancing to the semi-finals.
The second first-round match threw up arguably the match of the day as India’s Adarsh Vikram Narayanaswamy faced Raphael Paglia. The pendulum swung throughout this match, with Paglia winning table tennis and squash while Narayanaswamy took the badminton and tennis.
In the end, the match had to be settled by a gumi arm. Despite losing the toss Narayanaswamy held his nerve, making the serve before hitting a brilliant cross-court winner to seal the match.
That marvellous win for the wildcard saw him advance to face No.4 seed Bernhard Pilsz. Despite a valiant effort, Narayanaswamy could not repeat his first-round heroics, losing by 12 points to Pilsz.
This win marked a landmark moment for Pilsz, who advanced to his first-ever elite level singles semi-finals.
The third quarter-final saw Arnaud Genin face Nicolas Lenggenhager, with Lenggenhager’s first-round opponent, Simon Vaclahovsky, forced to retire.
The two had a hugely competitive match. However, Genin’s quality shone through as he won the final three sports to advance to the semi-finals.
The final quarter saw PSA Squash pro-Dimitri Steinmann make his racketlon debut as a wildcard against Damien Andre. Steinmann obviously won the squash heavily, defeating Andre 21-2. However, the Frenchman was far too powerful across the other three sports, advancing with ease to the quarter-finals to face No.2 seed Dan Busby.
In the quarters, Busby proved too strong for the Frenchman, beating Andre before tennis.
Hougaard and Genin Win Semi-Finals Before Tennis
Both semi-finals were routine affairs. Hougaard ended Pilsz dream of a first elite-level tour final with a dominating display in badminton and squash. Meanwhile, Genin recorded his second singles win over Busby, defeating the Brit before tennis in an eye-catching display.
That sets up a first career singles meeting between Kresten Hougaard and Arnaud Genin in Sunday’s final. This is Hougaard’s fourth final of the season – although he is yet to win a title. Meanwhile, Genin returns to a final for the first time since the IWT Vienna Classics in February.
All-German Affair to Decide Women’s Champion
The Women’s A at this year’s IWT Swiss Open consists of a four-player box league with World No.3 Nicole Eisler as the top seed.
However, after five of the six matches, it will be either Astrid Reimer-Kern or Silke Altmann who lift the crown after both defeated Eisler on Saturday.
Eisler, Reimer-Kern and Altmann all defeated Kirsten Kaptein to leave a three-way dash for the title. When Altmann defeated Eisler on Saturday afternoon, the pendulum swung against the top seed.
Eisler’s title hopes were ended in the evening as Reimer-Kern became the second German player to defeat her that day.
That leaves a tantalising final match between Astrid Reimer-Kern and Silke Altmann for the title. As defending champion, Reimer-Kern has all the pressure on her shoulder whiles for Altmann, this is a first singles final since the 2017 King of Rackets as she looks to complete a Triple Crown in Switzerland.
The two met earlier this month, with Reimer-Kern winning thanks to a crushing squash display. Can she do the same again and pick up her second title of the year?
Shocks in IWT Swiss Open Lower Categories
Unlike the elite event, the lower grades saw a number of shocks as seeds tumbled throughout the day.
None of the four seeded players reached the semi-finals in the Men’s B as three Swiss players advanced to the semi-finals. The all-Swiss final will be between Magnus Ekstrand and Andre Bandi after Ekstrand defeated France’s Nicolas Georges and Bandi beat Steven Buhler.
Women’s B top seed Tanja Omlin was also eliminated in the group stage as Emile Roux advanced to the final box league. She will be joined by fellow Swiss star Dara Ladner and Holland’s Fabienne Dony as they battle for the title on Sunday.
As with the Men’s B, there will be no seeds in the final of the Men’s C with all four falling in the opening two rounds. Instead, the final will be contested by Czech Republic’s Petr Blazek and experienced German Volker Sach.
Full results from Saturday’s first day of IWT Swiss Open singles can be seen here.
The report from day one of the IWT Swiss Open is available here.
The full FIR World Tour is available here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer