When racketlon restarts we have a very interesting race on our hands. With Arnaud Genin’s recent retirement announcement and Lukas Windischberger’s similar announcement in 2019, two places will free up in the top 10 of the Men’s Singles Rankings over the next 12 months or so.
The big question then, is who is going to fill those gaps? We haven’t had a new name in the top 10 of the rankings since Genin entered back in April 2019. That was over two years ago. Since that moment, the players have remained the same but now the chance is there for two more players to make their move.
We’re going to look at the players ranked 11-20 – as well as a few extras – to see who could dive in and grab a spot in the top-10.
No.11 – Sylvain Ternon
With one Frenchman departing the top-10, it seems only fitting that another should take his place.
Riding the success of his runner-up appearance at last year’s GRAWE sidebyside 14. Austrian Open, Sylvain Ternon is the prime candidate to make his first appearance in the top-10 of the world rankings.
Led by one of the best badminton abilities on the FIR World Tour, Ternon has been a racketlon force for a number of years now. Since 2018 alone, he’s recorded wins over the likes of Rav Rykowski, Duncan Stahl and Christian Wiessner. He’s also pushed the current world No.1 Morten Jaksland and former No.1 Lukas Windischberger close.
Had he received a kinder draw at the 2019 World Championships, and not faced Jaksland in the first round, he would most likely be in the top-10 already. Ternon is currently sat on 5,812 points. However, with five other players over 5,000 points, he is not guaranteed to replace Windischberger when the rankings make their next move.
No.12 – Nikola Mikac
Flying the flag for Croatia, Nikola Mikac is another who has been on the brink of breaking into the top-10 for a while but is yet to make his debut.
If Mikac is to make it into the top-10 then he needs to act fast when the FIR World Tour returns. Having played in six tournaments in 2018, the Croat is set to lose a tonne of points when the rankings start up once again.
Good results at the King of Rackets, Finnish Open and Austrian Open presented by GRAWE sidebyside will all come off as we get deeper into 2021, leaving Mikac needing decent results to replace those losses.
Having been as high as No.11, he’s almost tasted a top-10 ranking. Could 2021 be the year he finally gets a bite of the big time?
No.13 – Bernhard Pilsz
Another graduate from the Austrian academy of elite racketlon stars, Bernhard Pilsz is another who has come very close to breaking in over the last few years.
As with Mikac, a lot of his success has come from staying active and a build-up of points has seen him climb as high as he has. Luckily for him, his two biggest point-hauls came in 2019, at the Swiss Open and Austrian Open presented by GRAWE sidebyside.
Those points will stay on his ranking and give him a good building block heading into the 2021 season. With a win over his top-10 rival Mikac recently, he’s shown he can mix it with the players around him. Could Dan Busby have a left-handed companion in the top-10?
No.14 – Oliver Buhler
The pandemic has stopped the flow of plenty of players but Buhler was one who was just building an eye-catching run of form before the tour ground to a halt.
Buhler’s three best results all came just before lockdown. They were at the 2019 Austrian Open presented by GRAWE sidebyside, the 2019 World Championships and the 2020 Vienna New Year Classics.
The Classics was where he really came into his own. A shock semi-final defeat over Benjamin Graenicher put him in his first-ever elite singles final. While he lost the final, it announced his firm arrival in the top-15 and put him in with a great chance of making the top-10.
With a dangerous tennis game, Buhler is certainly one to keep an eye on. Given that we know the Swiss national team has been able to continue to train during lockdown, he could come out firing on all cylinders.
No.15 – Cornelius Radermacher
A domestic giant in Germany, Radermacher fully burst onto the international scene in 2019. Previously he had played the odd tournament here-or-there in the years beforehand.
Radermacher played five tournaments in 2019, reaching the semi-finals of the first three and finishing runner-up at the German Open.
His list of on-court victims speaks volumes about his quality as a player. As well as taking out his players ranked around him; Buhler, Lenggenhager and Jordan, he also recorded impressive wins over top-10 stars Kresten Hougaard, Dan Busby and Duncan Stahl. He also pushed world No.1 Jaksland close more than once.
With very few points to defend from 2018, Radermacher is one of the prime candidates to end 2021 inside the top-10 of the world rankings. That, of course, relies on him remaining active. The fact that he played in the 2020 Luxembourg Open – the last tournament played – is a very good sign.
No.16 – Ray Jordan
One of racketlon’s great veterans, Ray Jordan has been a consistent top-25 player now for longer than most. He also knows what it’s like to be a top-10 player, having broken in over a decade ago.
The pinnacle of the last few years for Jordan came in a three-week blitz towards the end of 2019. The Brit finished 4th at the Malta Open before landing on the podium with a bronze medal at the end of the Swedish Open two weeks later.
With a string of rough draws in 2018, Jordan has plenty of opportunities to replace those points with higher totals and move back towards the top-10. However, with him now entering his first year of eligibility on the seniors circuit, could he be focusing on dominating the +40 category instead and grab that first singles world title?
No.17 – Rene Lindberg
It’s been a number of years now since we’ve had a Swede in the top-10 of the men’s singles rankings. Rene Lindberg began 2020 ranked at No.11 and within touching distance. Now, he’s got a bit of work to do to clamber back into contention.
That’s not to say he isn’t in with a good chance. With one title at the 2019 IWT Swedish Open and another runner-up finish at the IWT Finnish Open, Lindberg is starting to consistently reach the latter stages of tournaments.
With top-10 wins over Benjamin Graenicher and Rav Rykowski, the Swede has proved he belongs in the big time. Possessing one of the biggest tennis games on the circuit, Lindberg is a threat to anyone if he can make it to the final sport. Could he be a dark horse to fly inside the top-10 in 2021?
No.18 – Nicolas Lenggenhager
A wizard on the badminton court, Switzerland’s Nicolas Lenggenhager lands at No.18 in the current FIR World Rankings. One of the Tour’s more active players, Lenggenhager made his big breakthrough at the 2019 Finnish Open.
It was clear Lenggenhager was on for a big week when he took out Rav Rykowski in the first round of the tournament, paving the way for a run-through to the final. In the end, he came up short against Finland’s Luka Penttinen but did remarkably well to reach a landmark final.
Can the left-hander push on and take the next step into the top-10 of the rankings? He’s certainly active enough to make the jump. However, with one 5th and one 9th backing up his runner-up spot at the IWT Finnish Open, Lenggenhager needs to reach the latter stages of tournaments a little more often to make it into the magical top-10.
No.19 – Leon Griffiths
In terms of raw talent, there is no one better on this list than Leon Griffiths. The multiple junior world champion has an eye-popping record and has also already been inside the top-10 of the world rankings in the past. That came thanks to his runner-up spot at the 2017 European Championships.
Inactivity has been the main reason for the older Griffiths’ brother’s slide down to No.19. Years at University have prevented him from travelling to tournaments, leaving him with just five tournaments on his 2018 and 2019 cards.
Those tournaments have a lot of glowing moments though. Two titles in Latvia and London and a further runner-up in Latvia in 2019. He also has a bronze medal at the World Championships and an 8th the year after. In total, he has only lost to Jesper Ratzer twice and Morten Jaksland since 2018. Not bad at all.
If we see Griffiths return to the FIR World Tour as an active presence then there is no doubt he will be a top-10 player and probably top-5. Whether that will happen, we’ll have to wait and see.
No.20 – Christian Wiessner
Last but certainly not least is the reliable German Christian Wiessner. A World Doubles Champion in 2018, Wiessner has not managed to quite translate those results onto the singles circuit.
Much like Griffiths, Radermacher and Lindberg, Wiessner also suffers from not playing as regularly. Five of his seven tournaments played in 2018 and 2019 were in Germany and that will limit his ability to climb too high up the rankings.
There’s no question that he has the ability to be in the top-10 though. With a fiercely solid tennis style and wins over Rav Rykowski, Luka Penttinen, Dan Busby and Kresten Hougaard, the German is a force. He’s also come within a handful of points of beating both Morten Jaksland and Lukas Windischberger.
Another player with top-10 potential but not the number of tournaments to quite get there.
Best of the Rest
Of course, who’s to say that the next top-10 player won’t come from outside the top-20. With names like Mandrin Mouchet, Michal Kurek, Simon Vaclahovsky and Kevin Ho Ching Ng all lurking nearby there could easily be a big surge by one of them.
Don’t forget the next generation either. Impressive young talents like Luke Griffiths, Joel Pennanen, Florian Harca and David Ersil are all in the top-100 and preparing to step up to the elite level. While they may have lost a year of training they’re another year older and another year stronger.
Who do you think will be in the top-10 at the end of 2021? Will it look much different from how it does now? Now, all we can do is wait and see how it plays out.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / Galdateniss.lv