The GRAWE sidebyside 15. Austrian Open saw a thrilling three days of racketlon, with 10 categories for amateurs, juniors and seniors spread across the weekend.
Several familiar faces lifted titles, including Florian Harca, Virag Sakovics, Marcel Weigl and Zuzana Vancurikova. In a historic first for racketlon, every single final was available to watch live and is still available now to rewatch on catchup.
In case you missed the action over the weekend, here’s your review of every single category from a fantastic tournament in Graz.
Men’s B Singles – Bastian Beats Frank in Historic Father vs. Son Final
We’re not 100% sure but we’re fairly certain that the final of this match was a historic moment in racketlon history. We can’t remember another time when a Father and Son clashed for a title – a landmark moment in our sport.
It was never guaranteed that it was going to be Bastian Böhm versus Frank Böhm in the final though. Both had to battle to get to there. Bastian’s toughest match arguably came in the first round against Hungary’s Bálint Puskás. The young German was trailing heading into tennis, but a 21-8 victory secured him a +10 win.
His second match against Saso Poljansek was a more straightforward affair. The Slovenian was playing in his first international tournament and had won his opening match by a single point against Benjamin Radl. Bastian was a test too far though, with the young German winning before tennis. His semi-final opponent was supposed to be No.1 seed Beat Ladner but the Swiss player was forced to withdraw, putting Bastian in the final.
Frank had a tougher run to the final. He battled past Austria’s Andreas Hölbling in the opening round before coming through a huge test against Leon Sam in the quarter-finals. Frank won that match by just three points, taking the tennis 21-19 in a tight affair match.
In the semi-finals, Frank took on Hans-Peter Ess. The Austrian had taken out No.2 seed Christian Börner and Nihit Kumar Singh in his first two matches but fell against Frank. After losing table tennis, Frank won badminton 21-5 and squash 21-16 to leave him in cruise control before tennis.
That left us with a historic final. Frank versus Bastian for the title. The younger Böhm took an early lead after winning the table tennis 21-12 and never gave that lead-up. He followed that up with a 21-7 badminton win and, despite losing the squash, needed just one point on the tennis court, something he managed with ease.
That is now two amateur singles titles this year for Bastian Böhm. The youngster also took the Men’s C title at the IWT Swiss Open and has emerged as a star that all players will want to avoid in future tournaments. There wasn’t too much disappointment for Frank, as he took gold in a separate category, as we’ll see later on. After Ladner’s withdrawal, Ess took the bronze medal.
The full Men’s B Singles results are available here.
Women’s B Singles: Sákovics Sinks Ladner in High-Quality Final
Virág Sákovics has played enough elite-level tournaments for the rest of the field to know her quality. The Hungarian was the No.2 seed in a six-player Women’s B Singles category in Graz, with Zuzana Vancuríková the top seed. That left the four other players battling in the quarter-finals.
IWT Swiss Open Women’s B Singles champion Dara Ladner took on Paulina Steiner in the first match. The experienced Swiss player was clinical from start to finish as she comfortably defeated Steiner before tennis.
There was a second, unrelated Steiner in the draw as Clarissa Steiner took part in the second match. Facing her was debutant Maria José Gomis. The Spaniard was taught a harsh lesson in Graz, with Steiner crushing her opponent for the loss of just three points before tennis.
Clariss Steiner would go on to face Sákovics, with a place in the final up for grabs. The Hungarian demonstrated her quality as she dismantled Steiner, with a 21-8 squash victory sealing the win before tennis.
The second semi-final was much tighter. After two sports, Ladner and Vancuríková were separated by just two points before a 21-10 squash win for Ladner opened up the opportunity for an upset. Despite Vancuríková leading in tennis, she left herself with too much to do. Ladner completed the upset and advanced to her second singles final of the season.
Ladner’s semi-final momentum continued into the table tennis against Sákovics. The Swiss player battled back from 9-5 down to eventually win 21-12 with a huge second half. Sákovics began to turn the tide of the match from badminton onwards. She narrowly won 21-18 before a bigger 21-10 squash win gave her a +5 advantage. Seeking 17 points in tennis for the title, Sákovics dominated from the start. Ladner could do nothing to stop the Hungarian as she rolled to a 17-7 win.
Remarkably, that is Sákovics’ first singles title on the FIR World Tour in the last seven years, having won three Mixed B Doubles titles in that time. For Ladner, attention now turns to the World Championship Singles where she is set to take part in the Women’s A Singles. Clarissa Steiner joined the finalists on the podium after beating Vancuríková by 11 points.
The full Women’s B Singles results are available here.
Men’s C Singles – Sublime Tennis Guides Schruf to Title on Tour Return
It’s always exciting when we see a player make a racketlon comeback after several years away. That is exactly the case for Austria’s Klaus Schruf, who last played an international tournament back in 2014.
His comeback tournament almost ended in the first round as he found himself facing top seed Balázs Döbörhegyi. Schruf was 14 points down heading into the tennis but held his nerve to crush Döbörhegyi 21-3. Nothing quite like defeating the top seed to give you a confidence boost.
The semi-finals saw Schruf take on Czech newcomer Pavel Stok. A table tennis specialist, Stok beat Schruf 21-1 to give him a massive head start. Schruf chipped away at the across the next three sports, sealing victory and a spot in the final with another dominant 15-4 tennis win.
In the final, Schruf took on Thomas Neupert. The German had looked fantastic on his way to the final. Without dropping a set, Neupert had first taken out Mathias Schilling before eliminating No.2 seed Mostafa Kazemi in the semi-finals. He hadn’t needed to play tennis in either match.
He did need to play tennis in the final, although after badminton that wasn’t looking so likely. Neupert led by 14 points before squash but that is when Schruf flipped the script. The Austrian took the squash 21-8 before, as in keeping with the rest of his tournament, dominating the tennis 21-5 to get his hands on the title.
Joining Schruf and Neupert on the podium was Czech newcomer Stok, who defeated Afghanistan’s Kazemi by 20 points. Congratulations to all three and we look forward to seeing them back on the FIR World Tour soon!
The full Men’s C Singles results are available here.
Juniors U13 Singles – Janser Dominates on International Debut
It is always refreshing to see a wave of new players competing in the Juniors U13 Singles as it shows us a glimpse into racketlon’s future. It is even more refreshing when they are as impressive as Sebastian Janser.
The young Austrian swept the category in Graz, winning all 10 of his sets against opponents Mathias Schilling, Robin Sam and Romeo Sam in the four-player box league.
The toughest set of Janser’s campaign came in his very first match as he edged Schilling 26-24 at table tennis. He then cruised to victory in the next three to crush Schilling by 42 points after tennis.
His results against Robin and Romeo Sam were both just as impressive. He played Romeo on Saturday, defeating him by 44 points before tennis. Then, on Sunday, Janser toppled Romeo by 28 points before tennis to secure an exceptional gold medal in Graz.
Schilling took the silver medal after beating both of the Sam brothers in a relatively simple fashion. In the battle of the brothers, it was Robin who grabbed the last spot on the podium. His first match of the weekend decided this as he defeated Romeo by 19 points.
A huge congratulations to all four players. We look forward to seeing them continue to battle for juniors trophies over the coming years.
The full results from the Juniors U13 Singles are available here.
Juniors U16 Singles – Wagner Completes a Flawless Weekend
Speaking of talented youngsters, Alexander Wagner is the reigning U13 World Champion. While he won’t be able to defend it due to his age, he’ll be a lead contender in the U16 category, especially after this weekend.
Following a Men’s B Doubles victory alongside his dad on Friday (more on that later) he turned his attention to the Juniors U16 Singles on Saturday.
As the top seed, Wagner was certainly the favourite. Even so, the dominance he displayed is eye-catching. Wagner began against Jakob Rosenberger, winning all three sets with a particularly impressive 21-3 badminton set the standout.
His badminton was even more dominant in the semi-final. Taking on Leon Steiner, Wagner won 21-0, before following that up with a 21-6 squash win. Two matches played, six sets won, no tennis required.
In the final, Wagner took on No.2 seed, Leon Sam. In an all-Austrian eight-player draw, it was still the two seeded players who reached the final. Sam began by getting revenge for his younger brothers over U13 champion Sebastian Janser.
In the second round, he took out Leo Hörtinger, who had battled past Benjamin Radl in his opening round. Sam impressively took out Hörtinger in the semi-finals, winning all three sports to just sneak a +22 victory before tennis.
In Sunday’s final between the two young Austrians, it was Wagner that took the lead early with a convincing 21-9 table tennis victory. Sam worked hard to grind out a 21-19 badminton win but Wagner retaliated on the squash court, 21-14. That left the tennis expert needing just five, something he predictably managed with ease.
A flawless weekend for the youngster, who collects his first U16 level title after five wins at the Juniors U13 level. Wagner is not currently entered in the World Singles Championship, but if he decides to go then he will certainly be a dangerous player in the Juniors U16 Singles category.
The full results from the Juniors U16 Singles are available here.
Juniors U21 Singles – Harca Triumphs After Epic Gummiarm Win Over Davidson
This weekend saw a huge amount of incredible conclusions to finals, and the Juniors U21 Singles produced one of the best. Florian Harca and Matthew Davidson are two of the FIR World Tour’s brightest young talents, and both demonstrated it in a thrilling match on Sunday.
To set up this encounter for the title, both had to defeat fellow box league players Leon Steiner and Bastian Böhm. That was no bother for either player as they won both sets of matches before tennis to set up the highly-anticipated showdown.
The final itself did not disappoint. After a weekend where he struggled at the table tennis table, Davidson produced his best performance to snatch 15 points against the superior Harca. Similarly, Harca had an impressive performance against Davidson in badminton. While Davidson is the better badminton player, Harca earned himself 13 points, especially notable when you consider he only had eight points late in this set.
Having played a lot of matches over the weekend, fatigue began to play a part as they headed to the squash court. Davidson’s squash is developing into a real weapon and the young Brit took a commanding 21-10 victory to leave him in a great position before the tennis. Nine points were what he needed for the title, while eight would force a gummiarm.
Florian Harca didn’t win the Romanian Open Challenger for no reason though. His tennis is at a fiercely high standard for a player of his age and he commanded the early stages of this set. With both players trading from the baseline, it was Harca who was winning the majority of the points and he led 11-5 at the change of ends.
In the second half, Davidson battled his way to eight points, giving himself four match points. Harca refused to collapse though, forcing three mistakes out of Davidson and hitting a volley winner to take us to yet another gummiarm.
Harca won the coin toss and elected to receive. After serving relatively safely for the majority of the match, Davidson elected to hit a big first serve down the T. Unfortunately for the young Brit, it narrowly missed to hand Harca a well-earned title in one of the best matches of the weekend.
Another high-quality title for Harca and a huge confidence boost ahead of the upcoming World Singles Championships. Both players are chasing the Juniors U21 Singles title. Have we just had a preview of the final in Zurich?
The full results from the Juniors U21 Singles are available here.
Seniors +40 Singles – Weigl Wins as Wagner Forced to Withdraw in Final
It was not the way that Marcel Weigl wanted to win his first Seniors title since being crowned World Champion at the 2019 World Singles Championships, but it was still a hugely impressive display from the Austrian throughout the event.
After a bye through the first round, he took on fellow Seniors World Champion Richard Hobzik in the semi-finals. That match proved to be exceptionally tight after three sports, with Hobzik leading by 10 points heading into tennis. Weigl produced some exceptional tennis to defeat Hobzik 21-8 and advance to the final.
In that final, Weigl would face fellow Austrian Thomas Wagner. Having won the Men’s B Doubles with son Alexander on Friday, Wagner was in rich form. The No.2 seed made light work of his first two rounds, defeating Germans Thomas Neupert and Christian Börner to reach the final without needing his tennis racket.
In the final though, it was Weigl who was firmly in control. A nervy 21-18 table-tennis win was backed up by a brilliant 21-8 badminton victory. to open up a healthy advantage before squash. Unfortunately, 2-0 down in the squash, Wagner rolled his ankle and was unable to continue. That moment for Wagner left Weigl with the trophy and Wagner with a silver medal. The bronze went to Hobzik after he beat Börner in the bronze medal match.
The full results from the Seniors +40 Singles are available here.
Seniors +50 Singles – Böhm Victorious as Ionescu Forced to Withdraw
We mentioned earlier that Frank Böhm missed out on a gold medal in the Men’s B Singles. Well, he climbed to the top of the podium this weekend in the Seniors +50 Singles instead. Albeit, in unusual circumstances.
Saso Poljansek found himself at the wrong ends of results against both of the Böhm’s this weekend, as he was Frank’s first-round victim in this category. In the semi-finals, Böhm took on Hungarian legend Peter Sákovics. Playing one of the matches of his life, Böhm took out the legend, winning the table tennis and badminton to record a +9 victory and advance to the final.
Radu Ionescu was supposed to be his opponent in the final. The Romanian had battled to a hard-fought win over alternate Peter Stoisser before taking out Michael Steiner in the semi-finals. Unfortunately, a late change to travel restrictions in Romania meant that Ionescu had to make a hasty exit on Saturday afternoon to guarantee he could make it home.
That left Böhm with the title, albeit in a strange manner. Nevertheless, a Seniors win over Sákovics is worthy of a title on its own. Tournament Director Steiner grabbed himself a well-earned bronze medal.
The full Seniors +50 Singles results are available here.
Men’s B Doubles – Awesome Wagners Roll to Title in Style
Alexander Wagner and Thomas Wagner may have both reached singles finals at the weekend, but their first success came on Friday. The father-son pair strolled through the Men’s B Doubles field to collect an impressive doubles crown.
After a bye through the first round, their quarter-final opener was an all-Austrian match against Leo Hörtinger and Benjamin Radl. After Hörtinger and Radl kept things relatively close in table tennis and badminton, the Wagners pulled away with a 21-8 squash win to triumph before tennis.
The only tennis they played was in the semi-finals against No.3 seeds Sam Barker and Radu Ionescu. They had beaten Graham King and Saso Poljansek before tennis and had a fierce game with the Wagners through the first three sports. After losing the table tennis 21-17 they ended up leading by one point going into tennis thanks to 21-18 and 21-19 victories in badminton and squash.
The Wagners produced a tennis masterclass though to reach the final, dominating to win 21-4. In the final, they took on No.4 seeds Christian Börner and Nihit Kumar Singh. The German-Indian pair had beaten two Austrian pairs, first taking out Oskar Schuur and Kristian Seiner before defeating young pair Sebastian Janser and Jakob Rosenberger in the semi-finals.
The final seemed like it would be close after a slender 21-19 table tennis win for the Wagners. From there, they pulled away though. A 21-7 badminton win was swiftly followed by a 21-6 squash win to seal the title for them before tennis. A fantastic achievement for the family as they take their first Doubles title as a pair. Barker and Ionescu finished third after defeating Janser and Rosenberger in the Bronze Medal Match.
The full Men’s B Doubles results are available here.
Mixed B Doubles – Vancuríková and Hobzik Survive Close Semi-Final to Claim Title
Champions at this tournament in 2019 Zuzana Vancuríková and Richard Hobzik were back to defend their title. The Czech pair didn’t have it all their way though, surviving a close semi-final with Virág Sákovics and Balázs Döbörhegyi.
After taking a 17 point lead after badminton, the Czechs seemed in complete control of this semi-final. In the end, they only managed to win by four points after the Hungarian duo impressed over the back half. Ultimately, their comeback was in vain though, as it was Vancuríková and Hobzik who returned to the final.
Joining them in the final was Swiss pair Dara Ladner and Beat Ladner. The duo won a hard-fought semi-final against Austria’s Clarissa Steiner and Leon Sam, winning by 15 points after getting the 10 they needed in tennis.
The final was a one-way affair from start to finish. The quality of Vancuríková and Hobzik shone through as they took the table tennis 21-12, badminton 21-8 and squash 21-15 to roll to another title. Back-to-back titles now for the Czechs in Austria. Could they make it a hat-trick in 2022?
Virág Sákovics and Balázs Döbörhegyi were the third pair on the podium as they won the Bronze Medal match on yet another dramatic gummiarm.
The full Mixed B Doubles results can be seen here.
The elite reports are all live and can be read below:
The full results from the SWT GRAWE sidebyside 15. Austrian Open are available here.
Interested in playing racketlon yourself? We’ve got five tournaments still open for entry between now and the end of the year, with anyone welcome to enter any tournament, including the World Championships. All tournaments have entry categories for all types of players, including juniors, seniors, elite and complete beginners.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer