Switzerland’s Nicolas Lenggenhager has enjoyed a sensational run to the final of the IWT Finnish Open Men’s A Singles.
The World No.28 produced a stunning first-round display to beat No.2 seed Rav Rykowski in the opening round on his way to a maiden elite singles final.
In the Women’s A Singles, seeded duo Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Kirsten Kaptein are on course for a showdown. They won both of their matches on day one to remain unbeaten.
Elsewhere there was a welcome return to racketlon for last year’s singles champion Henrik Mustonen. The PSA Squash pro won the Mixed A Doubles alongside fellow Finn Anna Wall.
Men’s A Singles: Lenggenhager Enjoys Breakout Tournament
For Switzerland’s Nicolas Lenggenhager the 2019 IWT Finnish Open will live long in the memory. The badminton specialist has had a remarkable tournament reaching the final of both the Men’s A Singles and Doubles.
Lenggenhager opened his Singles campaign against World No.7 Rav Rykowski. Despite his rankings deficit, Lenggenhager knew he had a good chance as he led the head-to-head 1-0. That would soon extend to 2-0 as wins in table tennis, badminton and tennis overwrote a heavy squash loss to give him a +4 win over Rykowski.
In the semi-final he faced Otto Tennila after the Finnish player comfortably defeated Greg Lorkiewicz. For the second match in a row, Lenggenhager found himself embroiled in a battle.
Tennila won the table tennis 21-9 before Lenggenhager returned the favour with a 21-11 badminton triumph. The squash set ended as a 21-19 victory to Lenggenhager leaving a full set of tennis to decide the winner. In the end, the Swiss player held his nerve, winning 21-18 to seal a spot in the final.
There were more fierce matches in the top half of the draw. Top seed Luka Penttinen recorded his first win over Rene Lindberg in three attempts to move into the semi-finals with a +7 victory. Tommi Laine joined him after winning the all-Finnish first-round clash by +9.
The semi-final saw Penttinen and Laine split both the table tennis and squash to deuce. However, comfortable badminton and tennis wins for Penttinen saw the World No.6 advance to the final.
Sunday’s final pitched Penttinen against Lenggenhager in a mouth-watering contest. The two have never played before in singles or won a Men’s A Singles title on the FIR World Tour so history is guaranteed to be made.
Women’s A Singles: Ahlmer’s Title Defence Up-and-Running
Top seed Anna-Klara Ahlmer made an impressive start to her IWT Finnish Open title defence. At the halfway stage in the Women’s A singles, the Swede is unbeaten, dropping just one set in her two matches.
Second seed Kirsten Kaptein also joins her on two wins after day one after routine victories over Finnish duo Kaisu Anttila and Anna Wall. Anttila is the other player to boast a win after rallying from an early table tennis defeat to beat Svetlana Kasilova.
The title will be decided on Sunday in a contest between Ahlmer and Kaptein. Ahlmer holds a big head-to-head rankings advantage and is the favourite to win the title in Helsinki.
Other Men’s Singles Categories
It’s a good day for the FIR Rankings system as the four seeded players all reached the semi-final stage. As seeds, all received a bye through to the quarter-finals meaning they all needed to win just one match to reach the latter stages.
There were no real scares with Joel Pennanen beating Roni Lyytinen, Seppo Raiski defeating Markus Elomaki, Sami Lithenius stifling Jonas Engstrom and Kevin Ho Ching Ng dispatching Pauli Byckling.
That leaves No.1 seed Pennanen facing No.3 Raiski and No.2 Ho Ching Ng playing No.4 Lithenius for a chance to win the title.
There more drama in the Men’s C with top seed Rafal Szlazak and No.4 seed Graham King both being eliminated on Saturday. That leaves unseeded duo Markus Rama and Martin Lorkiewicz contesting one semi-final while No.2 Dariusz Adam Walczak and No.3 Sergei Seregin battling in the other.
Juniors and Seniors
In the Juniors U21, Piers Boden has put himself in prime position to win the title after an impressive Saturday. The Brit won seven of his eight sets to crush Jonas Engstrom and Oskari Laiho. A win against top seed Joel Pennanen on Sunday will see him lift the trophy. If not, then we’ll have a three-way shoot-out for the top spot between Boden, Pennanen and Engstrom.
Rafal Szlazak leads the Seniors +45 after an unbeaten start while Jaakko Syrjanen has already wrapped up the Seniors +50 title. The Finn upset top seed Dariusz Adam Walczak on his way to lifting the crown.
Finnish pair Pekka Tennila and Jari Kortelainen will contest the Seniors +60 title. Tennila is the top seed but Kortelainen did a splendid job knocking out No.2 seed Markku Merta in the semi-finals.
Doubles: Three Pairs Crowned; Two Finals Still to Play
Three of the winning doubles pairs have already been crowned in Helsinki. Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Katrin Maldre fought off top seeds Kirsten Kaptein and Anna Wall to win the Women’s A Doubles title. Kaisu Anttila and Svetlana Kasilova took bronze.
Henrik Mustonen marked his return to racketlon with another title. This time it came in the Mixed A Doubles where he and partner Anna Wall stopped top seeds Ahlmer and Rene Lindberg on their way to the title. Kirsten Kaptein and Nicolas Lenggenhager finished third.
The Men’s B Doubles was also won by a Finnish duo as Oskari Laiho and Joel Pennanen defeated Ari Kujala and Pekka Tennila in the final, winning +25 before tennis.
That leaves two doubles finals to be contested on Sunday. Nicolas Lenggenhager, as well as playing the singles final, will team up with Rene Lindberg to face Kevin Ho Ching Ng and Otto Tennila in the Men’s A Doubles after they eliminated top seeds Tommi Laine and Luka Penttinen.
The Mixed B Doubles title will also be decided as Russian Duo Svetlana Kasilova and Sergei Seregin face Kaisu Anttila and Artem Gankin in the final.
The full results from the IWT Finnish Open can be seen here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / Rene Zwald