World No.1s Morten Jaksland and Christine Seehofer are both competing at the IWT Malta Open as they attempt to lift the final Malta trophy.
With the IWT Malta Open confirmed to be taking place for the last time, the two players will battle in four-player box leagues with the Victor Racketlon Series also on the line.
Both elite singles draws feature experienced racketlon stars. Seehofer is joined by Izzy Bramhall, Nicole Eisler and Amke Fischer while Kresten Hougaard, Duncan Stahl and Ray Jordan battle it out with Morten Jaksland.
Men’s A Singles: Jaksland Looking for First Malta Singles Title
Morten Jaksland is building up quite a collection of FIR World Tour singles titles but the Malta crown still eludes him. He heads to the Marsa Sports Club looking to secure it for the first time.
One former champion is in the field – 2017 winner and World No.2 Kresten Hougaard. Hougaard beat Jaksland back in the 2017 final and will most likely need to repeat that feat if he is to be successful this year. The two friends know each other’s game extraordinarily well, as they also teamed up to win the World Doubles Championships this year in Oudenaarde.
They are joined in the box league by a pair of Brits, Duncan Stahl and Ray Jordan. Stahl is the reigning +40 World Champion and has recorded previous wins over both the World No.1 and No.2. Jordan meanwhile, is in strong form. At the Cha London Open back in August, Jordan gave Jaksland a fierce game, pushing the World No.1 close.
Given his form this year, Morten Jaksland is the favourite for the title. It won’t be easy though, with all four players believing they have a chance. Jaksland and Hougaard will also contest a shootout for the Victor Racketlon Series title. If either of them lifts the trophy then they are guaranteed to win the Victor Racketlon Series title.
Women’s A Singles: Fischer Aiming for Third Malta Open
Two-time Malta Open champion Amke Fischer returns to the island looking for a third. This time though, she faces the daunting task of World No.1 Christine Seehofer.
Seehofer’s unbeaten run has now well-surpassed 80 singles matches as she goes for her first IWT Malta Open title. Seehofer and Amke Fischer are joined by former No.1 Nicole Eisler and Izzy Bramhall.
Bramhall and Eisler have already contested a final together this year, at the IWT Club La Santa Open. Fischer meanwhile is on a superb run of form, winning the IWT German Open and Cha London Open to cap a marvellous summer.
All three will have to produce the performance of a lifetime to take down Seehofer. The Austrian World No.1 is looking to lift her fifth Women’s elite singles title of the season after winning the IWT Vienna Classics, IWT Czech Open, SWT King of Rackets and SWT Austrian Open presented by GRAWE sidebyside.
Men’s B Singles: Strong Field Headlined by Kurek
The Men’s B singles in Malta boasts a strong field of recognisable racketlon faces. Austria’s Roland Pichler is the top seed with Denmark’s Michael Skytte Pedersen in at No.2. Perhaps the name to keep an eye on the most is No.3 seed Michal Kurek. Currently leading the Victor Racketlon Series Challenger standings, Kurek is a shoo-in for the title unless he is shocked early in the competition.
Tobias Hausen is the No.4 seed, with three other German players in the draw. There are also a trio of British teenagers in the Men’s B; Will Gregson, Ross Wilson and Matthew Davidson, who join experienced Brit Keith Lesser.
Women’s B Singles: Myslek Going for Victor Racketlon Series Challenger Title
Esther Dubendorfer is the top seed in a fascinating Women’s B singles draw. The Swiss star opens against Tine Bargholz from Denmark. However, much of the intrigue from this tournament comes in the first round match between Katarzyna Myslek and Carola Von Heimburg.
Myslek currently leads the Victor Racketlon Series Challenger title but Von Heimburg is also in contention, and a loss in the first round for Myslek could see the title slip away.
The other two first-round matches see No.2 seed Stine Krogsoe play Dara Ladner and Katrin Maldre take on Zuzana Vancurikova.
Men’s C and D Singles
11 players are competing in the Men’s C singles, with Belgian Jonathan Rucquoy the top seed. Rising Czech youngster David Ersil is the No.2 seed while Alexander Jaatmaa is No.3 and Graham Cain is No.4.
With six players in the Men’s D, there are just two seeded players. Malta’s Melchior Vassallo flies the flag for his home nation as the top seed with India’s Kedar Nadgonde the second seed.
Juniors and Seniors
The three British juniors competing in the Men’s B singles are also in action in the Juniors U21 event. Gregson, Wilson and Davidson are joined in the four-player box league by David Ersil, who is currently the No.4 ranked junior.
Three of the top-10 Senior players in the World are also in action in the +40 singles. Frank Kleiber, who leads the Victor Racketlon Series Seniors standings, is joined by No.4 Richard Hobzik and No.9 Ulrich Schlepphorst. These three are joined by Britain’s Lee Gregson and Denmark’s Graham Cain.
Finally, the +60 singles sees a Hall of Famer in action, as Svatopluk Rejthar joins Graham King, Ray Ryan and Jiri Dvorak to battle it out for the IWT Malta Open title.
You can follow all the results across the weekend here.
Information about the 2020 FIR World Tour can be found here
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / rubinfoto.com