After a long wait the FIR World Tour finally begins today with the IWT London Open. Leon Griffiths and Amke Fischer are both back to defend the singles titles they won back in 2019.
We’re going to preview all the elite draws to find out what their chances are of repeating their success.
Men’s Singles – Griffiths Opens Title Defence Against Manners
It’s not an easy start for Leon Griffiths as he looks to triumph again in London. Ranked as the No.2 seed, Leon is set to face wildcard Jermaine Manners in the opening round. Manners is currently unranked but has three world tour singles titles to his name, winning in UK-based tournaments back in 2008 and 2009.
The two players form part of an eight-player draw, with travel restrictions meaning it’s an all-British affair. Griffiths definitely goes into this contest as the favourite but Manners has the potential to give him difficulty as a former champion himself.
Elsewhere, No.1 seed Duncan Stahl opens with a fascinating match against Leon’s younger brother Luke. The current U16 world champion, Luke is one of the sport’s hottest prospects. How much he’s been able to practice during the last 18 months is something of a mystery and it will be interesting to see quite how far he has come during the break. Given his level of talent before the pandemic though, Stahl will have every reason to be wary of a first-round upset.
The other match in the top half sees former world champion Calum Reid take on another British teenager, Ross Wilson. This is a battle with a similar narrative to Stahl vs. Luke Griffiths. The next British hope takes on the current British talisman. Will youth triumph over experience on this occasion?
The third and final match is a Battle of the Matt’s as Matthew Haynes takes on Matthew Davidson. Like Griffiths and Wilson, Davidson is another British teenage prodigy. Can he get the better of the 2014 Irish Open champion Haynes in the first round?
Who are you predicting to win the IWT London Open? The Men’s Singles competition begins on Saturday afternoon.
Women’s Singles – Can Anyone Stop Fischer?
With travel complications stopping Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Myriam Enmer from travelling to London, Amke Fischer stands as the clear favourite in this new-look Women’s A event.
Fischer is the only regular elite grade player in the draw with the rest of the field made up of Britons Matilda Parslow and Alexandra Ogram, and Romania Irina Sanderson. Parslow is the most recognisable name, having won a selection of Women’s B titles and also being part of the GB team that won the second division of the World Team Championships.
Ogram has also had success in her short international career. The Briton triumphed two years ago at the world championships, lifting the U16 Girls title. For Sanderson, this is a first-ever competitive racketlon tournament.
There is no doubting that Fischer is the favourite, but can any of the other spring a shock or two?
Men’s Doubles – Griffiths Brothers Teaming Up
What’s scarier than facing one of the Griffiths brothers? Facing them both of course. Luke and Leon are teaming up in the Men’s Doubles to form a frightening pair. They are joined by Ross Wilson and Matt Davidson who team up once against after their successful silver at the 2019 IWT Malta Open.
With Lee Tribe forced to pull out of his first event this week due to COVID, Nigel D’Arcy is stepping up to partner Matthew Haynes. The fourth and final pair sees debutants Dorian Robinson and Will Rogers-Tizard work together to try and stun the more experienced players.
All four pairs will face each other in a round-robin tournament. Can anyone stop the Griffiths brothers?
Mixed Doubles – Parslow and Bispham Top Seeds
Matilda Parslow and Johnny Bispham continue their dream racketlon partnership by landing as the top seeds in the Mixed Doubles. With an array of success in the past their connection both on and off the court make them a formidable doubles team to take down.
Amke Fischer is their biggest challenger as she teams up with Sam Barker who is returning from injury and making his debut at the elite level of the international game.
Barker is not the only one stepping up to the A grade for the first time. British juniors David Bennett and Alexandra Ogram are teaming up while Irina Sanderson partners James Pope to round out the four-team box league.
Fischer is the player with the most skill and success historically in mixed doubles but can Parslow and Bispham’s experience playing together help guide them to gold?
The full IWT London Open draws can be seen here.
The preview of the non-elite categores can be found here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer