Christine Seehofer and Dan Busby lead the elite fields at the IWT Swedish Open. The tournament takes place this weekend at the iconic Enskede Rackethall, the first return to this venue since the 2012 Racketlon World Championships.
Dan Busby leads a Men’s A draw packed full of local players. In fact, nine of the 12 players competing are Swedish, with Busby, Ray Jordan and Kevin Ho Ching Ng the only non-Swedish players.
The Women’s A features a four-player box league lead by World No.1 Christine Seehofer. She is joined by Swedish players Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Emmie Danielsson. Top-10 player Kirsten Kaptein is the fourth player competing.
Men’s A Draw: Top Half
World No.3 Dan Busby may have become World Mixed Doubles Champion and British Champion this year but an FIR World Tour singles title still eludes him in 2019. Busby heads up the draw with Ray Jordan, Rene Lindberg and Gustaf Moller the other three seeded players. All four receive a bye through to the second round.
Busby will begin against either Sebastian Hedlund or Jimmy Tay in the first of three all-Swedish first-round clashes. The Brit will not have fond memories of Hedlund after the Swede beat him in the 2015 European Championships, their only previous meeting.
This is Hedlund’s first appearance since the 2018 IWT Swedish Open where he was forced to retire. In his tournament before that, he beat top-10 players Benjamin Graenicher and Luka Penttinen, proving his danger as an unseeded player. Jimmy Tay has not had a bad year himself, reaching the Men’s B podium at the IWT Latvian Open.
The second first-round match pitches Alexander Lipczynski against wildcard Erik Stenfelt with the winner advancing to play Rene Lindberg. These two have already met this year, in the final of the Men’s B at the IWT Czech Open. Stenfelt ran out a comfortable winner in that match – will Lipczynski get revenge?
Men’s A Draw: Bottom Half
The bottom half of the draw opens with Mikael Rehn’s first appearance of the season. The Swede opens against rising star Kevin Ho Ching Ng from Hong Kong. For Ho Ching Ng, this is a first step up to the Men’s A at IWT level after a string of impressive performances in the Men’s B. The winner of this match will advance to the quarter-finals to take on No.4 seed Gustaf Moller.
The final all-Swedish opener pitches Joakim Hellgren against Par Gunnar Mattson. Hellgren is a fresh face on the FIR World Tour and is taking part in his first tournament of the season. The Swede boats an impressive history having reached the Men’s B final at the 2017 European Championships. Gunnar Mattson is also in good form having won the Seniors +40 at the IWT Latvian Open.
Whoever advances to the quarter-finals will put up a stern test against No.2 seed Ray Jordan. The Brit is looking to bounce back from the recent IWT Malta Open where he was unable to secure any upset wins against the higher-ranked Morten Jaksland, Kresten Hougaard and Duncan Stahl.
Women’s A Draw
Preparations continue to ramp up for the World Championships with three of the World’s top-five choosing to travel to Enskede Rackethall. World No.1 Christine Seehofer leads the field and, as always, is the favourite. Joining her is Anna-Klara Ahlmer, Kirsten Kaptein and local player Emmie Danielsson.
It will be particularly interesting to see how Danielsson matches up against the three higher-ranked women as she continues to develop into a solid A grade player. Earlier this year at the IWT Czech Open she produced a superb victory over top-five player Hannah Boden and pushed World No.2 Zuzana Severinova close as well. Can she muscle her way onto the podium?
History would suggest that Seehofer against Ahlmer will be the decisive match in this box. History would also suggest that Seehofer is almost impossible to beat as she closes in on 100 consecutive singles victories.
Men’s B Draw
Fresh from the IWT Malta Open, Roland Pichler is the top seed in the Men’s B. He is joined by No.2 seed Joel Pennanen, No.3 Ed Harvey and No.4 Sergei Seregin. As with the Men’s A, the Men’s B is chock-full of Swedes.
Of the 12 non-seeded players, nine of them are Swedish. After reaching the Men’s B final at the IWT Latvian Open in his first international tournament, Jesper Hedlund is one name to keep an eye out for. Hedlund opens against Harvey in the first round.
For the non-Swedish players, former top-15 player Piers Boden makes his return to the open categories for the first time as he continues his comeback from injury. The talented junior begins his campaign against Ulf Svensson.
Women’s B Draw
The four-player draw sees two regular players take on two returning players. Brits Jo Shelley and Dianne Baker are the two seeded players. Meanwhile, Nete Yom Knudsen and Mie Kjellser both return to the FIR World Tour for the first time in at least two years.
This is an interesting group of players with a fair few previous meetings between them. Baker and Shelley have met numerous times with Shelley holding a dominant head-to-head lead. However, Shelley has a 1-1 head-to-head with Kjellser and a 1-0 lead over Knudsen.
Kjellser leads Baker by 2-0 but Knudsen has a 1-0 winning record over Kjellser. Shelley and Baker have the recent racketlon experience but this is an open draw that could go in any direction.
The full list of IWT Swedish Open draws including all juniors, seniors and open categories can be viewed here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / rubinfoto.com