Racketlon returns this weekend with the inaugural Luxembourg Open Challenger. The tournament is the first time that there has been an international racketlon competition in the country.
World No.1 Morten Jaksland is beginning his season in Luxembourg as he opens against Anthony Duthuille in a Men’s A field that features four of the world’s top-10.
The Women’s A draw also sees four of the world’s top-10 in action, with No.4 Anna-Klara Ahlmer leading the pack. In total 64 players are competing across 11 categories.
Men’s A Top Half: Jaksland Season Begins Here
Last seen in the World Singles Championship final, where he lost to five-time champion Jesper Ratzer, Morten Jaksland makes his return to the international racketlon circuit.
Frenchman Anthony Duthuille is Jaksland’s opponent in the first round. The two have never met on the singles court, although did face each other in mixed doubles at the London Open Challengers last year.
The winner of that match will take on either Finland’s Tommi Laine or France’s Damien Andre. As with the first match in this half, these two are meeting for the first time on the court. Funnily enough, they are also playing each other in the Men’s A Doubles, with Laine teaming up with Luka Penttinen and Andre with Loic Cencig.
The trend of first-time meetings continues in our third match. Great Britain’s Ray Jordan takes on Germany’s Markus Klement in an interesting first-round encounter. For Klement, this is a landmark moment, as the German makes the step up into the Men’s Elite level for the first time.
The final match of the top half sees No.4 seed Luka Penttinen take on a rising star from India, Adarsh Vikram Narayanaswamy. After a superb debut year in 2019, Narayanaswamy is now taking on his first top-10 player in Penttinen. Will he be able to cause a first-round upset?
Men’s A Bottom Half: Stacked Quarter Headlined by Schopf
The most stacked quarter of the tournament has fallen in quarter three, with all four players ranked inside the top-20.
Emanuel Schopf is the seed in this section, as the world No.7 opens against No.15 Cornelius Radermacher. The two are yet to meet but, with Radermacher recording top-10 wins over Kresten Hougaard, Duncan Stahl and Dan Busby last year, this is arguably the tie of the first round.
The second match is equally fascinating, as Oliver Buhler and Christian Schaefer collide in an all-Swiss contest. Remarkably, this is the first time the two Swiss National teammates have played on the international circuit. Buhler is the man to watch, after already reaching the final of the IWT Vienna New Year Classics last month.
Following the all-Swiss affair is an all-French match between wildcard Josselin Gade and Loic Cencig. The latter won the Men’s B title at the World Singles Championship and is now returning to the elite level of competition.
The final match of the first round pits world No.4 Dan Busby against Germany’s Stefan Neumann. Busby and Neumann complete the trend of none of the first round players have ever faced each other before in singles.
If the tournament goes to seeding then the semi-finals would be Jaksland against Penttinen and Schopf against Busby. Will there be a shock or two on the way?
Women’s A: Group A Holds Intriguing Trio
The Women’s A Singles competition is a six-player draw, with two groups of three players. Group A holds top seed Anna-Klara Ahlmer, as well as Stine Jacobsen and Lieselot De Bleeckere.
While Ahlmer holds a healthy rankings advantage, the head-to-head records tell a slightly different story. Jacobsen holds a 2-1 winning record over the Swede. However, all three matches have been close, with Ahlmer edging their most recent contest by just two points at the World Teams Championship.
Ahlmer does hold a 2-0 winning record over De Bleeckere. However, as with Jacobsen, these matches were both fairly close. However, it is worth noting that their last meeting was way back in 2016, with Ahlmer winning that contest by three points.
After playing just one tournament in 2019, De Bleeckere has fallen to No.31 in the rankings. In the one tournament she did play, she lost to Jacobsen. In total Jacobsen holds a 2-0 head-to-head record, which suggests that the match between Jacobsen and Ahlmer will decide the winner of this group. With De Bleeckere’s experience though, that is by no means a given.
Women’s B: Three Top-10 Stars in Action
Group B holds World No.6 Kirsten Kaptein, No.7 Nicole Eisler and No.8 Margaux Randjbar, in what is an eye-catching draw. As with Group A, all three players have met before.
Despite being the No.2 seed, history is firmly against Kaptein. Switzerland’s former world No.1 Eisler holds a 6-0 winning record. Kaptein does have one win against France’s Margaux Randjbar but lost their most recent meeting in last season’s Champions League.
With Nicole Eisler holding a solid 2-0 winning margin against Randjbar, everything is pointing towards Eisler being the favourite to progress through to the final from Group B. However, all of their previous matches have gone to tennis so this group is by no means a given.
Best of the Other Luxembourg Open Challenger Categories
After winning the Women’s B title at the IWT Vienna New Year Classics, Irina Olsacher is back in action as the top seed in the Women’s B in Luxembourg. She is joined by Switzerland’s Dara Ladner, Great Britain’s Alexandra Ogram, who is also Girls U16 World Champion, and Turkey’s Dolunay Soykan.
Guus Van De Burgt is the top seed in a Men’s B category featuring several recognisable names. French duo Bertrand Carlier and Jean Michot are the No.2 and No.3 seeds with experienced Keith Lesser in at No.4.
+65 World Champion Graham King is the top seed in the Women’s C. The Swiss legend, who hosted the live draw for the tournament, is joined by Germany’s Michael Bauer, Slovakia’s Milos Kucecka and Switzerland’s Laurent Dan Rueff as the seeded players. A word also in the Men’s C for Tiago Bastos, Hrvoje Galic and Ricardo Gomes Moreira, the three players from Luxembourg making their racketlon debuts.
Two French players and two Irish players making up the Juniors U21 draw. Jules Monnaye and Lucas Steyer are the two seeds, while Irishmen Evan Roe and Alec Schmidt are looking to upset the French party.
Finally, the Seniors +40 is headlined by two well-known racketlon faces. Germany’s Manfred Grab is the top seed with Netherland’s Erik Roelofsen the second seed.
The full draws for the Luxembourg Open Challenger are available here.
Interested in entering a Racketlon tournament yourself? Every FIR World Tour and Challenger is open for players of all ages and abilities to enter. Check out our full list of tournaments here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / Inge Omey