Morten Jaksland plays hist first tournament since becoming World No.1 at the start of July. He headlines the men’s singles draw as top seed while Zuzana Severinova leads the women’s singles draw.
Jaksland is joined by World No.3 Kresten Hougaard, No.4 Dan Busby and No.7 Luka Penttinen as the four seeded players.
Severinova meanwhile is joined by World No.5 Anna-Klara Ahlmer and No.6 Kirsten Kaptein as the other two members of the top-10 competing.
The tournament also serves as the second of three events in the Victor Racketlon Series, with players competing for several prizes across tournaments in Berlin, Latvia and Malta.
Jaksland and Busby in Top Half of Draw
Morten Jaksland’s IWT Latvian Open campaign begins against home favourite Arturs Zaicevs. The two have experienced vastly different years so far, with Zaicevs 0-5 and Jaksland 13-1, while Jaksland also boasts a 2-0 head-to-head lead over the Latvian.
The second match in the top quarter pits rising star Luke Griffiths against Uldis Dzirkalis. U16 World Champion Griffiths broke out on the elite stage at last month’s King of Rackets. The youngster finished 5th, pushing eventual runner-up Kresten Hougaard close in the quarter-finals. Can he set up a possible second round against the World No.1?
The second quarter pits Marcel Weigl against Loic Cencig. The duo have never met before and this, on paper, looks like one of the most competitive matches of the opening round.
The other match in this quarter sees No.3 seed Dan Busby take on wildcard Par Gunnar Mattsson. The duo have also never met before in singles but have played twice in doubles, splitting the head-to-head 1-1. Busby’s experience should see him through with this being Mattsson’s first tournament of the year.
Hougaard Leads Intriguing Bottom-Half of Draw
World No.3 Kresten Hougaard looks to reach his fifth consecutive Men’s A singles final as he headlines the bottom half of the IWT Latvian Open draw.
The other seed in this section is Luka Penttinen, who opens with an intriguing match against Poland’s Michal Kurek. Kurek has won the Men’s B in his last two events and is making his first step-up into racketlon’s elite level. How will he fare with an opener against the World No.7?
The second match in Penttinen’s quarter sees a first appearance of the season for U21 World Champion Leon Griffiths. The talented young Brit begins against France’s Anthony Duthuille as he looks to defend his IWT Latvian Open title.
The bottom quarter begins with another Brit, Duncan Stahl, as he takes on Nicolas Lemercier. As with Kurek, this marks a first venture into the Men’s A for Lemercier. It doesn’t get much tougher than opening against the +40 World Champion Stahl.
Finally at the bottom of the draw, Hougaard begins against Finnish wildcard Otto Tennila. Tennila does not play on the Tour too frequently but has previous wins over A grade regulars Bernhard Pilsz and Simon Vaclahovsky. Can he trouble the World No.3?
Severinova Leads Women’s A Field
Zuzana Severinova has landed in a tricky group at the IWT Latvian Open. With six women entered, there are two box leagues of three players, with the top in each group going through to contest the final.
In Group A, top seed Severinova has landed alongside Hannah Boden and Margaux Randjbar.
Severinova has a fascinating head-to-head with Hannah Boden. The Czech star holds a 4-1 winning head to head. However, the last time they met was in the U21 World Championships final last year, with Boden actually winning before tennis. The box league format favours Severinova but could Boden shock her with a pre-tennis victory once again?
Margaux Randjbar has also previously beaten Severinova, although that was back in 2016. The duo have met twice this year with Severinova winning both, albeit in two competitive matches.
Hannah Boden has won the only previous meeting against Margaux Randjbar, winning fairly comfortably before tennis.
Zuzana Severinova is the favourite in this group for a reason. Both of her opponents know they can beat her, but they will both have to be at their very best to do so.
Ahlmer Looking for First Final of the Year
Group B is led by World No.5 Anna-Klara Ahlmer. The Swede is joined by Kirsten Kaptein and Viktorija Ratacova.
With a 5-1 head-to-head lead over Kaptein and 1-0 over Ratacova, Ahlmer is the clear favourite in this group. If she were able to reach the final, it would be her first of the season after two third-place finishes.
For Kaptein and Ratacova it is a case of friends becoming enemies. The two team up on Friday in the Women’s Doubles before taking on each other in the group. They have not played singles against each other before.
IWT Latvian Open results will be available to view here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer