The IWT French Open draw has been released with the tournament acting as the final warm-up event for players ahead of the upcoming World Singles Championships.
Top four players Morten Jaksland, Kresten Hougaard and Arnaud Genin headline the Men’s elite draw while the Women’s draw sees World No.1 Christine Seehofer, No.3 Anna-Klara Ahlmer alongside the return of Natalie Paul.
On Friday, the tournament in Paris also hosts the second leg of the Racketlon Champions League, as the Berlin Berghain Boasters look to defend their crown.
Men’s A: Jaksland Leads Stacked Field in Paris
The 16-player Men’s A draw is stacked in Paris as players look to win the final IWT title of the season. World No.1 Morten Jaksland is joined by No.2 Kresten Hougaard, No.4 Arnaud Genin, +40 World Champion Duncan Stahl, +50 World Champion Richard Middleton and former World Doubles Champion Christian Wiessner.
Jaksland is at the top of the draw and opens against Frenchman Damien Andre. Entering the tournament off the back of a title in the IWT Malta Open, Jaksland is the favourite in this match. If he wins his opener then he will either face Anthony Duthuille or Koen Hageraats in the next round.
Hageraats, who is in the draw as a wildcard, has made quite the impression in his first year on tour. This includes almost securing a big upset against Dan Busby at the CHA London Open back in August, falling short by a handful of points.
The second quarter is headlined by Arnaud Genin who begins with an all-French clash against Sylvain Ternon. The last time this pair met it was Genin who got the win but only by three points. Could it be as close once again?
Christian Wiessner or Nikola Mikac awaits the winner in the next round. As a former World Doubles champion, Wiessner is one of the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw.
The third quarter begins with No.4 seed Duncan Stahl facing Christian Schaefer for the second time this year. Stahl won this match fairly comfortably back in August but has lost on two previous occasions to Schaefer including at last year’s World Championships.
+50 World Champion Richard Middleton is involved in the other match in this section. The Brit faces Germany’s Simon Vaclahovsky in a first meeting between the duo.
The second dangerous, unseeded German lurks in the bottom quarter. Cornelius Radermacher, who reached the final of the IWT German Open and semi-finals at the SWT King of Rackets, takes on fellow German Thorsten Lentfer.
The other match in that quarter sees World No.2 Kresten Hougaard play Britain’s Ray Jordan. The pair recently met at the IWT Malta Open with Hougaard winning a close affair.
Women’s A: Seehofer in Final World Championships Warm-Up
Christine Seehofer headlines the field as she continues preparations for the upcoming World Championships.
The World No.1 has landed in a group with Margaux Randjbar and Stine Jacobsen, with the winner from the group advancing to the final. Seehofer holds a 1-0 head-to-head lead over both women and is the firm favourite to advance to another final. If she wins the title in Paris she will reach 90 consecutive racketlon singles victory.
Group B has thrown up an intriguing mix of players with World No.3 Anna-Klara Ahlmer joined by Amke Fischer and the returning Natalie Paul. Despite being the higher seed, Ahlmer has a losing record against both of her opponents. Fischer holds a 4-0 winning margin while Paul’s is closer a 3-2. Ahlmer and Paul have always contested close matches in the past and it could be similar in Paris.
Fischer also holds a 4-1 winning record over Paul. These head-to-heads suggest that Fischer is the favourite to advance to the final. However, Paul won their most recent meeting, albeit two years ago at the European Championships. Having not played in over a year, there is also intrigue into how Paul will play on her return to the FIR World Tour.
Men’s B Singles: French Debutants Lurk for Regulars
There are plenty of familiar faces in the Men’s B draw with Roland Pichler the top seed and Filip Kos No.2. However, the draw also includes seven unranked Frenchmen, an air of mystery that will fill our regular players with caution.
Pichler opens against Mickael Kofman while Kos takes on unseeded Frenchman Thomas Wannegue. In fact, all eight seeded players open against a French player, suggesting home fans could have plenty to cheer about if any seeds are upset in the first round.
Women’s B Singles: Matilda Parslow Going for 3rd Women’s B Title
Matilda Parslow is the top seed in the Women’s B as the Brit attempts to win her third 2019 title. After previous success in Prague and Nussloch she will open her campaign against Sophie Lechemolle.
Maxi Karg, also a Women’s B champion this year, is the No.2 seed and begins against Amelia Grosbois. Five of the eight women in the draw are from France with two – Aurelie Haurant and Foulon Morgane – making their FIR World Tour debut.
The full IWT French Open draws, including the Men’s C, D, +40s and +50s Women’s D and Juniors U16 are all available here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / Czech Racketlon Association