For U21 World Champion Leon Griffiths, 2019 had not quite gone to plan before the CH London Open.
Griffiths lost the final of the IWT Latvian Open to Morten Jaksland by one point and to Dan Busby in the UK National Championships final.
At the CH London Open, the teenager showed that those losses are behind him and he means business.
Griffiths beat both Jaksland and Busby on his was to the Men’s A singles title as well as winning the Men’s Doubles alongside Calum Reid.
We caught up with Leon Griffiths after the final.
Congratulations on your first title of the year. How do you feel?
Yeah, it’s good. It was good to face some enemies this year that have beaten me. It was a sweet victory.
Morten Jaksland and Dan Busby have both beaten you this year as you mentioned. How much did you use that as motivation?
It was huge motivation. I haven’t been that nervous playing Morten in a while but I channelled that into absolute concentration. Nothing could have happened to have taken my eye off the table tennis and badminton.
When I played him in Latvia we had really tight games of table tennis and squash and he edged them both. That was a huge turning point. But this time I managed to edge them both and that proved dividend.
And then playing Dan, I had to really get myself up for that badminton. Legs were a bit sore on the final day but I just had to make him work hard for every point he got.
In the final against Dan, what was the key sport?
Definitely the table tennis. I think Dan would admit he probably didn’t have his best game but I think I was really solid and I only made two mistakes in that set so he had to hit a winner in the table tennis and he was missing a couple while I kept the pressure on and the momentum just didn’t swing in his favour so I think the table tennis was crucial today.
With a doubles victory as well on Friday you had a flawless weekend. Does this provide a confidence boost for the rest of the season?
Huge. With the World Champs coming up, I think that’s the next big one. I might even go teetotal for the next couple of months.
Is that an exclusive?
Well… loosely teetotal.
Talk to us about the venue here at the Roehampton Club?
It’s absolutely brilliant around here. Grass courts – has it ever happened before in World Tour racketlon? You can’t fault the facilities here – they’re incredible. Duncan, as always, has done a brilliant job. The people on the desk have been fantastic. No one has put a foot wrong. The only criticism is that we should get more people involved. You can really expand this tournament so hopefully, they’ll look to do that next year.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Are you playing any tournament before the World Championships?
Probably not – just the World Champs. I always enjoy playing that. No one misses out on the World Champs. It’s always a good true reflection to see who’s doing well and who the people are to beat so it’s always good so I’m looking forward to it.
How do you rate your chances at the World Championships?
I don’t know to be honest. Obviously, Morten is going to be really tough if he gets it right. Dan’s beaten me this year. There’s a lot of players that have a good chance.
Even today, there’s a lot of awkward players that could potentially knock out big seeds with the matchups and profiles so there are six to eight people who potentially have a chance if the draw works in their favour so it should be a tight World Champs. One of the tightest we’ve had in years.
The full CH London Open Men’s A singles final between Leon Griffiths and Dan Busby is available to watch here.
The report from the final between Leon Griffiths and Dan Busby is available here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer