A New Year means only one thing. The return of the Vienna New Year Classics! The opening tournament on the FIR World Tour, nearly 100 players are beginning their year by jetting off to Austria.
Historically the first event on the FIR World Tour, this year is not different. However, there is a new face leading the event, as the ever-popular Roland Pichler takes over as tournament director.
Who will be crowned our first World Tour champions of the year? Here’s a rundown of the A and B grade singles.
Men’s A Top Half Preview: Schopf Leads Field at Tennis Point Vienna
Three of the world’s top-10 are making an early start to their season with an intriguing mix of players completing the 12-man draw.
After rising to world No.5 at the start of December, Emanuel Schopf is the top seed at his home tournament. Switzerland’s Benjamin Graenicher is the No.2 seed with Rav Rykowski No.3 and Oliver Buhler at four. The four seeded players will all receive a bye to the quarter-finals while the other eight contest the first round.
Schopf is at the top of the draw and will face either Christian Schaefer or Philipp Patzelt. While Schaefer is an experienced A grader who reached the quarter-finals of the World Championships, Patzelt is competing in the A grade for the first time.
The next first-round match is very intriguing. Janez Majovec returns to the FIR World Tour for the first time since 2017, with +45 World Champion Marcel Weigl his opening opponent.
While not the most recognisable name, Majovec has an impressive racketlon resume. With victories over Dan Busby, Rav Rykowski and Georg Stoisser, Majovec is a serious danger and arguably the tournament’s biggest wildcard. If Majovec wins his opener, he’ll face Rav Rykowski for the third time in his career with the head-to-head tied at 1-1.
Men’s A Botton Half Preview: Can Anyone Break into the Top-10?
Two of the 2019’s rising talents collide in the next first round as Anthony Duthuille plays Michal Kurek. The two have played once before, with Kurek winning at the IWT Latvian Open last year. Whoever emerges victorious will take on Oliver Buhler in the quarter-finals, with Buhler looking to burst into the top-10 in the rankings for the first time.
The final first-round match pitches two top-15 players against each other. Experienced Croat Nikola Mikac and youngster Bernhard Pilsz meet for the first time. These two are also in the running to break into the top-10 once Lukas Windischberger falls out, so will be looking for a big run here. Benjamin Graenicher awaits the winner in the quarter-finals.
Last year it was Arnaud Genin who won this title, defeating Rav Rykowski in the final. With Genin not in Vienna, will Rykowski go one better or will someone else lift the trophy?
Women’s A Preview: Christine Seehofer Looking to Defend Title Again
As with every Women’s A event she enters, all eyes are on whether anyone can end the massive unbeaten streak of top seed and world No.1 Christine Seehofer. One thing is definitely certain – we’re guaranteed an all-Austrian podium.
This year’s Women’s A is a four-player box-league with Christine Seehofer joined by sister Elisabeth Seehofer, Bettina Bugl and Martina Meissl. Meissl is competing in just her second tournament in two years after making her comeback at the 2019 World Singles Championship.
With none of the three having beaten Christine Seehofer, the real battle is likely to be for the other spots on the podium. It will certainly be one heck of a battle. Elisabeth Seehofer and Meissl are tied at 2-2 in their head-to-head while Bugl leads Seehofer 8-2. Bugl and Meissl are tied at 1-1 meaning all three of them have beaten each at some point. The medals are fully up for grabs!
Men’s B: Double Duty for Pichler
Juggling his new tournament director responsibilities, Roland Pichler is also the top seed in the Men’s B. Pichler is backed up by No.2 Filip Kos, No.3 Philipp Schneider and No.4 Bertrand Carlier.
Almost half of the 16-player draw is made up of Austrian players with youngster Florian Harca one of the names to keep an eye on. Another top-10 junior, David Ersil, is also in the draw, taking on Austrian alternate Martin Kova.
Women’s B: Krogsoe and Vancurikova Headline Draw
Eight women make up the first Women’s B draw of the year and it’s familiar faces who take the seedings. Denmark’s Stine Krogsoe and Czech Republic’s Zuzana Vancurikova are the two seeds, with Krogsoe opening against Linda Schedl and Vancurikova facing Afghanistan’s Negin Saremi. Irina Olsacher, who just missed out on a medal at the World Championships, is also in the draw.
There are a variety of other categories including juniors, seniors and doubles taking place at the IWT 10. Vienna New Year Classics. You can follow all the results across the weekend here.
Check out the 2020 FIR World Tour and Challengers here and enter a tournament today!
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer