It’s been a long time since we last had an FIR World Tour event – February to be exact – but finally, racketlon is back! Racketlon’s long-awaited return comes from Graz, Austria for the GRAWE sidebyside 14. Austrian Open and the tournament begins with an old classic – Men’s Doubles. It’s time for a preview of each doubles draw.
COVID-19 has unfortunately meant that each doubles draw has been restricted to just four pairs. All that means is that every match is crucial as we are already at the latter stages of the competition.
Men’s Doubles Draw Analysis
Friday’s action kicks off with the top seeds Emanuel Schopf and Georg Stoisser against Jonas Grafeneder and Florian Harca. This match is one for the local fans to sink their teeth into with all four players coming from Austria.
With two doubles titles each on the FIR World Tour, Schopf and Stoisser certainly have the experience in this match. It is worth noting that neither won a title while playing together though.
For Grafeneder and Harca, this is a big opportunity. While Grafeneder has played one previous tournament in the Men’s A Doubles, this is Harca’s debut at this level. The two youngsters are some of racketlon’s brightest talents and will be eager to prove themselves against Schopf and Stoisser. Will the top seeds march through to the final or can the youngsters provide an upset?
There are two more Austrians in the second semi-final with Thomas Wagner and Marcel Weigl occupying the second seed. The pair will face Martin Abrami and Mohammed Tarik Koubaa in their opener.
Tied 8th on the all-time Men’s Elite Doubles title winners list, Marcel Weigl is lethal on the doubles court. Winning this tournament would take him up to 12 titles, tying him with former partner Calum Reid on the all-time list. Wagner also has one doubles title to his name, making these two the most experienced in the draw.
For Weigl to have a shot at moving up the all-time list though they’ll first have to overcome Abrami and Koubaa. Koubaa made history in 2018 when he became the first African player in the sport’s history to lift a Men’s A Doubles title at the CHA French Open. For talented youngster Abrami, this marks the first foray into doubles on the FIR World Tour, and we eagerly await his debut.
The Men’s Doubles begins on Friday at 15:00CET and will be available to watch live on streamster.tv.
Mixed Doubles Draw Analysis
After a break from doubles on Saturday, it returns on Sunday 22nd November with the Mixed Doubles competition.
Bettina Bugl and Bernhard Pilsz take the top seed in the draw while Myriam Enmer and Nicolas Lenggenhager are No.2. Once again there are just four pairs in the draw meaning we head straight to the semi-finals.
Less than 24 hours after meeting in the first round of the Women’s Singles, Bettina Bugl and Martina Meissl will collide once again. Bugl and Pilsz will take on Meissl and Jonas Grafeneder with a place on the final on the line.
This match features the only previous Mixed Elite Doubles champions with Bugl having won five titles and Meissl one. A tournament win in Graz for Bugl will move her up to six, tying her with Christoph Krenn, Morten Jaksland and Silke Altmann – high-quality company.
For the pairs, this is the first time that they’ve played together on the FIR World Tour. It will be interesting to see which way that will swing the match but for both Pilsz and Grafeneder, this is a huge chance to pick up a first Mixed Doubles title at the elite level.
While the first match is all Austrians, the second match features none. Enmer and Lenggenhager are teaming up to face Czech pair David Ersil and Sona Konigsmarkova. While Lenggenhager is an established elite player and Ersil is one of the best juniors on the circuit, little is known of the two women who are both making their debut.
History favours an Austrian champion in the Mixed Doubles but any racketlon player will tell you to beware of the unknown. Could we see Bugl or Meissl lift another trophy or will one of the non-Austrian pairs cause spring a surprise in Graz?
Make sure to watch the Mixed Doubles on Sunday, 22nd November from 09:00CET.
For full coverage of the GRAWE sidebyside 14. Austrian Open follow the FIR Facebook and Instagram pages. For further coverage, follow the RFA Facebook and Instagram pages and the ERU Facebook and Instagram pages.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / rubinfoto.com