The IWT Finnish Open draw has been completed with Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Luka Penttinen leading the field.
Defending champion Ahlmer returns to Finland searching for her first FIR World Tour singles title since last year.
Meanwhile, Penttinen leads a men’s draw which also features 2017 European Champion Rav Rykowski.
In total there are 61 athletes heading to Helsinki from 10 countries. The IWT Finnish Open takes place at the Smash Center Helsinki from the 13th-15th September.
Men’s A Singles: Penttinen Leads Draw but Rykowski Favourite
Home favourite Luka Penttinen is the top seed in the Men’s A draw as he continues to chase a first FIR World Tour A grade singles title.
Defending champion Henrik Mustonen is not returning to defend his singles title but is competing in the Men’s A Doubles.
Penttinen, who finished runner-up here two years ago, opens with a tough match against Sweden’s Rene Lindberg. Lindberg actually leads the head-to-head 2-0, beating Penttinen twice in 2018. In both matches, Penttinen made a fast start but was pulled back, with Lindberg’s tennis closing out the win.
Whoever wins between Penttinen and Lindberg is guaranteed to face a Finn in the semi-finals. Tommi Laine faces wildcard Mikko Nissinen in the second match in the top half. Laine has the racketlon experience after a stellar year which has seen him lift the Men’s B title at the IWT Vienna Classics.
Meanwhile, second seed Rav Rykowski takes his place at the bottom of the draw and begins against Switzerland’s Nicolas Lenggenhager. The two have surprisingly not met before despite being regular players on the FIR World Tour.
The other match in the bottom half pits table tennis specialist Otto Tennila against Poland’s Greg Lorkiewicz. With these two having never played, this stands to be an intriguing opening-round contest.
Women’s A Singles: Ahlmer Aiming to Defend Title
Swedish World No.4 Anna-Klara Ahlmer returns to Finland looking to defend her title. She features in a five-player box league in the Women’s A, also featuring Kirsten Kaptein, Svetlana Kasilova, Kaisu Anttila and Anna Wall.
History is certainly on Ahlmer’s side. She has never lost to any of her four opponents in singles, previously beating Kaptein and Wall. Although she has never played Anttila and Kasilova in singles, she has beaten them both before in doubles. The top seed is certainly the front-runner for the title.
Behind Ahlmer it’s hard to pick a second favourite. The only two to have played each other before are Kirsten Kaptein and Anna Wall. In their two meetings, Kaptain won the first while Wall won the most recent in 2018. Anttila and Kasilova have never faced any of their opponents in singles so are slightly more unknown quantities.
Ahlmer is the favourite to lift her first singles title of 2019 but will there be a big shock in Finland?
Who else is competing in Finland?
The Men’s B is a largely local affair, with Hong Kong’s Kevin Ho Ching Ng and Sweden’s Jonas Engstrom the only non-Finnish players. Joel Pennanen is the top seed in the Men’s B with Kevin Ho Ching Ng seeded No.2.
The Men’s C is fronted by two Polish players, with Rafal Szlazak and Dariusz Adam Walczak the two highest seeds. Russia’s Sergei Seregin and Switzerland’s Graham King are seeded No.3 and No.4.
Joel Pennanen is also the top seed in the Juniors U21, with Britain’s Piers Boden, Sweden’s Jonas Engstrom and Oskari Laiho making up the rest of the box league.
In the Seniors, Graham King is the top seed in the +45s, Dariusz Adam Walczak in the +50s and Pekka Tennila in the +60s.
The full IWT Finnish Open draws are available to preview here.
The full FIR World Tour is available to here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / rubinfoto.com