The SWT Austrian Open presented by GRAWE sidebyside saw one of the year’s feel-good stories as Switzerland’s Benjamin Graenicher beat the World No.1 and World No.5 to win the biggest title of his career.
After a season interrupted by injury, it is impressive that Graenicher has come back with form this rich.
We caught up with the World No.7 after his triumph in Austria.
Congratulations on your title Beni, how pleased are you to have won an elite singles title once again?
It is nice to win again, but the joy to play is much more important to me. I have tried giving my best at every tournament I have been to and sometimes the stars just align like last weekend.
It was clear early on that Morten wasn’t able to move at 100%. How do you mentally adjust to face an opponent whose movement is limited?
Do not ask me! It took me two and a half sports before finally being able to properly capitalize on it. It was my first SWT singles final and having an excellent opportunity to win it, it took me a while to calm my nerves. Luckily, we did not start with Morten’s strong sport. Therefore, despite my subpar play, I was still in the lead and could finally step up my game in the second half of squash.
It was a great weekend for you with wins over Morten Jaksland and Arnaud Genin. What do you make of your performance in Austria?
Compared to my previous wins in Turkey, I had to beat three top ten players in a row – do not forget Emmanuel Schöpf as the highest unseeded player. Therefore, this win certainly counts more because of the quality of the opposition. However, to be honest, I did what I always do. Try to lead with the table tennis and then capitalize on any weakness in one of the other three sports.
I think I am most proud of my squash against Arnaud. I was not afraid of going for really long rallies with one of, if not the best, movers/runners in racketlon. Maybe it was just the brand new (and obviously lucky) squash racket I got from Morten’s racket shop.
It’s been a rough year for you after suffering the injury in Prague. Talk us through the injury and the recovery process?
After this weekend, it is a lot less rough! In Prague, my front foot slipped while going to play a short forehand. I fell and tore the exterior ligament in my right knee. Therefore, instead of playing the King of Rackets, Swiss Open and Latvia, which I had already booked, I spent all my time in the gym doing stability exercises, footwork, lifting weights. For anyone just wanting to hit a ball, it is a very painful and mentally challenging experience. Nevertheless, what does not kill you makes you stronger, a German saying goes.
Are you impressed with your level since returning to the FIR World Tour?
I always thought of myself as someone who needs to put in the hours to produce results. I might not show it, but I have heavily invested in technique over the last two to three years. That seems to be paying off now. Instead of having to fight back in every sport, some of it just came naturally. That was very satisfying.
What are your goals for the rest of the year?
Honeymoon! I will be away for six weeks exactly during the period of fall tournaments. But I will have enough time to train for the World Championships in Germany. Also, the Swiss National Championships will be held in December. I hope to play well in those two events, but mostly I want to have fun.
How do you rate your chances at the World Championships?
It really depends who shows up and how the draws fall. There are often many very good unseeded or wild card players. Profiles also play a big role. On a good day, I would say the semi-finals are doable and who knows what happens then.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / rubinfoto.com