Zuzana Severinova won her first Women’s A singles title while Morten Jaksland beat defending champions Leon Griffiths on a thrilling finals day at the IWT Latvian Open.
After reaching four consecutive finals, Severinova finally won her first title after beating Anna-Klara Ahlmer on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Jaksland beat Griffiths by one-point in a gripping and dramatic Men’s final to pick up his first title since becoming World No.1.
Elsewhere there were titles for Philip Pederson, Kaisu Anttila and Ilari Ponkko in the lower categories.
Jaksland Beats Griffiths in Electrifying Final
The World No.1 – Morten Jaksland – against the U21 World Champion and Latvian Open defending champion – Leon Griffiths – was, on paper, an tantalising prospect. The match delivered on every level.
Jaksland was the fastest out of the gates, a nip-and-tuck table tennis going his way. The Dane snuck a 21-17 advantage to give himself a handy four-point lead early on.
That lead disappeared rapidly in badminton as Griffiths produced a simply stunning display. The teenager thrilled the watching crowd as he won 21-4 to lead by 13 heading into Jaksland’s two strongest sports.
A few years ago, squash was Griffiths’ weakest sport by far. However, he has improved immensely and the Brit was able to keep the score close in a lengthy squash set. Jaksland eventually got the win with another 21-17 score, leaving Griffiths needing 13 in tennis for the win.
Jaksland’s tennis is one of the best on Tour but Griffiths is also very solid and he hung on to the World No.1. With Jaksland leading 13-8 is looked as though the Brit would be able to find the finishing line.
In the end, the match concluded in dramatic fashion. With Jaksland leading 20-11, Griffiths needed just one point to secure at least a gumi arm.
The Brit hit a backhand down the line which he thought caught the line. Jaksland was convinced that the ball had landed out and, after some discussion, the umpire agreed with the World No.1 After a short discussion, a frustrated Griffiths conceded defeat, leaving Jaksland as the new IWT Latvian Open champion.
For Jaksland, that win marks a superb fourth trophy in five singles events in 2019. He’ll next be in action at the IWT German Open as he goes for a fifth title of the season and begins his Champions League campaign.
Third-place was won by No.2 seed Kresten Hougaard as he beat No.3 seed Dan Busby +8 in a high-quality match.
Zuzana Severinova Lifts Her First Elite Singles Trophy
It was a special day for World No.3 Zuzana Severinova. After reaching six previous Elite Singles finals, the Czech star finally managed to secure her first trophy – and in style.
The youngster had reached three finals in a row before Latvia while for her opponent, Anna-Klara Ahlmer, this was a first singles final of the season.
As with the men’s final, the table tennis was a tight affair. Ahlmer was the more attacking player throughout but Severinova was more steady, and the top seed snuck the table tennis 21-16.
The badminton was more comfortable for Severinova. She played a superb set to keep Ahlmer to single figures, winning 21-9 to open up a healthy +17 lead heading into the squash.
Would the Czech player buckle under the pressure of winning her first title? Not one bit. The squash set became something of a procession, with Severinova overpowering Ahlmer from the start to win 21-8 and seal her first title.
It has been a long time coming for Zuzana Severinova but will, no doubt, be the first title of many in the youngster’s career. The win also completed a Triple Crown for Severinova in Latvia, as she won the singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles titles.
Fellow youngster Hannah Boden took third-place as she defeated Kirsten Kaptein by +11 in a topsy-turvy match.
Scandinavians Dominate Other Categories
In the Men’s B, Denmark’s Philip Pederson came through two epic matches on Sunday to win his second Men’s B singles title.
The Dane battled past Sweden’s Jimmy Tay in the semi-finals, winning by just four after winning the last three sports.
In the final he faced Tay’s doubles partner Jesper Hedlund. Hedlund, who was competing in his first FIR World Tour event, put on a superb display but was unable to secure a first title. Pederson won the final three sports for a second match in a row to win +7 and seal the title.
In the Women’s B singles there was a first FIR World Tour title for Kaisu Anttila. The Finn was superb throughout the tournament, dropping only three sets throughout. In the end, she won the final against Latvia’s Anete Zabere by +14 after winning the first three sports.
There was another Finnish champion in the Men’s C singles as Ilari Ponkko defeated Johan Rosenberg in the final. The Seniors +40 title went to Par Gunnar Mattsson while Bruce Shepherd took the Seniors +50 crown.
As he continues his comeback from injury, Piers Boden triumphed in the Juniors U21 category.
The full results from the IWT Latvian Open are available here.
The full FIR World Tour is available here, with all tournament open to players of all ages and abilities.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer