World No.2 Zuzana Severinova and World No.3 Dan Busby both begin their 2021 FIR World Tour seasons at the SWT GRAWE sidebyside 15. Austrian Open. The two sit as the top seeds in the Women’s Singles and Men’s Singles draws respectively.
Severinova is joined in the draw by recent Romanian Open Challenger champion Anna-Klara Ahlmer. Breakthrough star Myriam Enmer is also heading to Graz while Irina Olsacher flies the flag for Austria. Five-time defending champion Christine Seehofer and regular finalist Bettina Bugl are both unable to compete due to injury.
Joining Busby in the men’s competition is fellow top-10 players Emanuel Schoepf and Duncan Stahl. Croatia Nikola Mikac is the last of the four seeded players while recent Romanian Open Challenger winner, Florian Harca is also in action.
The SWT GRAWE sidebyside 15. Austrian Open is taking place on September 24-26 at the Racket Sport Center in Graz, Austria.
RACKETLON.SHOP Men’s Elite Singles – Busby and Stahl Seeds in Top Half
While Dan Busby is the top seed in the draw, he is not a clear, runaway favourite. You could make a case that this is one of the most open and interesting Men’s Singles categories in the last few years.
The four seeds, Busby, Emanuel Schoepf, Duncan Stahl and Nikola Mikac have all received byes through to the quarter-finals, leaving four first-round matches to kick-off the action on Saturday.
Busby could find himself opening against a familiar face. The World No.3 will take on either Great Britain’s Matthew Davidson or Afghanistan No.1 Ahmad Jafari. Davidson and Busby met on a UK Tour event just last month, with Davidson only losing by four points in the end. To set up an all-British quarter-final though, Davidson first has to get past Jafari, who finished 15th in last year’s Men’s A category here.
The top half is dominated by British players, with Stahl also landing in this half of the draw. He will take on either Nicolas Lenggenhager or Patrick Oettl in the quarter-finals as they meet in round one. While the two have not met on the singles court, they did face in doubles earlier this year at the IWT Swiss Open. Lenggenhager, partnered by Champod, got the better of Oettl on that occasion.
Lenggenhager is one of the players chasing a spot in the top-10 of the world rankings and could take a big step towards it here if he can beat Oettl and upset Stahl. The Brit won the only previous meeting between the two, but only by five points.
RACKETLON.SHOP Men’s Elite Singles – Austrian Trio Schoepf, Harca and Weigl in Bottom Half
Opening the second half of the draw is Marcel Weigl against Simon Vaclahovsky. The Austrian and German players are battling to take on Croatia’s Mikac in the quarter-finals. Perhaps surprisingly given their activity levels on the tour, Weigl and Vaclahovsky have not met before. This match has all the hallmarks of one of the tightest in the first round.
The final section of the draw houses three of the sport’s youngest talents. Schoepf has the bye through to round two where he will face either Florian Harca or Yannic Andrey. While Harca may now have an elite title under his belt, Andrey has a 1-0 winning record over him. The Swiss youngster beat Harca on his way to winning the U18 World Singles title back in 2019.
Can Busby, Stahl, Weigl, Harca or Schoepf add another title to their collection or will we have a brand new elite champion?
The full RACKETLON.SHOP Men’s Elite Singles draw is available here.
DWT – SCHMÖLZER Women’s Elite Singles – Severinova Makes Her Return as Ahlmer Eyes Back-to-Back Titles
We’re used to seeing Christine Seehofer dominate this event. The World No.1 has won each of the last five editions of this tournament but won’t be competing this year in Graz due to an injury. That creates an opportunity for a new player to get their hands on the trophy.
Zuzana Severinova is the top seed in the four-player draw, with the World No.2 joined by Anna-Klara Ahlmer, Myriam Enmer and Irina Olsacher. Severinova finished as runner-up at this tournament two years ago, with Ahlmer also on the podium in third. There is a high chance the two will be back on the podium in 2021 – but where will they place?
Severinova leads the head-to-head 2-0 over Ahlmer in regular singles matches. However, Ahlmer did beat Severinova as part of a World Teams Championship match back in 2018, albeit in a shorter format. The head-to-head certainly favours Severinova but there is a catch. This is her first tournament back.
The same cannot be said for Ahlmer. The World No.3 has been extremely active since the restart, winning the recent Romanian Open Challenger and also competing in the IWT Swiss Open. Could she have shaken off the rustiness in time to beat Severinova in Graz? Ahlmer also has a 1-0 head-to-head lead over both Enmer and Olsacher.
All of the players have played each other at least once apart from Severinova and Enmer, who will collide for the first time. Enmer leads Olsacher 1-0 in the last of the head-to-head records, having won at the IWT Swiss Open thanks to a stunning 21-5 tennis comeback.
Will Severinova win on her return or could Ahlmer keep her winning streak going? Alternatively, might we see Enmer or Olsacher get their hands on a first elite singles title?
The full DWT – SCHMÖLZER Women’s Elite Singles draw is available here.
Babolat Men’s Elite Doubles – Dickert and Windischberger Return at Home Tournament
Michi Dickert and Lukas Windischberger – two of racketlon’s greatest doubles players – are reuniting in Graz for a crack at the SWT GRAWE sidebyside 15. Austrian Open Men’s Doubles title. Between them, they have 50 elite doubles titles, with Dickert leading the all-time standings with 34. They’ve also won 10 titles together as a pair, third on the all-time list between Jesper Ratzer and Kasper Jonsson and Dickert’s partnership with Christoph Krenn.
Dickert and Windischberger begin their campaign against No.1 seeds Dan Busby and Duncan Stahl. The Brits will have their work cut out against the Austrian powerhouses, with Busby, in particular, chasing a 10th elite doubles title. With just four pairs in the competition, the winner of that match will advance to the final.
The second match also sees an all-Austrian pair in Florian Harca and Marcel Weigl. They open their campaign against Yannic Andrey and Emanuel Schoepf. This is a fascinating doubles match purely because of its relation to the singles draw. Harca and Andrey are due to meet in both the first round of the singles and doubles, while the winner of their singles match will face Schoepf.
Both pairs feature one player with elite doubles titles to their name. Weigl has 11 while Schoepf has three, with the two both looking to add to their total at their home tournament.
Can anyone stop Dickert and Windischberger from sealing their first Austrian Open title as a pair?
The full Babolat Men’s Elite Doubles draw is available here.
VICTORIA AWARDS Women’s Elite Doubles – Ahlmer and Severinova Lead a Small Field
Before going head-to-head on the singles court, Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Zuzana Severinova will team up in the Women’s Doubles. The duo won the title here two years ago after beating the Seehofer sisters in their first and only previous outing together as a pair.
They sit as heavy favourites in the three pair draw. Joining them are up-and-coming stars Myriam Enmer and Irina Olsacher, and local players Clarissa Steiner and Paulina Steiner. Enmer does have one Women’s Doubles title already this year, winning with Ahlmer a fortnight ago in Bucharest.
For both Ahlmer and Severinova, this is a big opportunity to move up the all-time rankings. Ahlmer is currently tied in joint-8th on eight titles with Isabelle Bramhall and Zuzana Kubanova, having already won two titles in 2021. A win for Ahlmer would move her level with Amke Fischer on nine wins while for Severinova it would move her up to eight and inside the top-10.
The full VICTORIA AWARDS Women’s Elite Doubles draw is available here.
CASH4CAR Mixed Elite Doubles – Ahlmer and Busby Lead Intriguing Draw
After winning the Luxembourg Open Challenger together last year, Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Dan Busby are teaming up once again. The Swedish-British pair begin their run against Myriam Enmer and Nicolas Lenggenhager, who reached the final together at this tournament one year ago. If Enmer and Lenggenhager are to go one better than this time last year, then they’ll need to take out the top seeds in the first round.
The second semi-final sees Lukas Windischberger back once again, this time competing alongside Zuzana Severinova. This is the first time the two have paired up together. With 18 mixed doubles titles between them, they will be a tough pair to stop. Looking to do just that is regular partners Irina Olsacher and Emanuel Schoepf. The two lost in the final of the IWT Swiss Open earlier this year. Can they reach another final in their home country, or will it be Severinova and Windischberger battling for the title?
The full CASH4CAR Mixed Elite Doubles draw is available here.
A full preview of the non-elite categories will be coming on Thursday.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / rubinfoto.com