Ratzer Chasing World Title No.6 | World Singles Championship

Jesper Ratzer is heading to Switzerland in search of a record-equalling sixth World Singles Championship title.

Mikko Karkkainen is the only previous player to have won six world singles titles. Having won each of the last five tournaments, Ratzer is just one away from equalling the legendary Finn.

Ratzer is not alone in making his return, as former champion Magnus Eliasson and multiple silver medallist Kasper Jønsson are both competing. These will join the likes of Morten Jaksland, Dan Busby, Kresten Hougaard, Emanuel Schöpf and more in challenging for the title.

Quarter One: Jaksland Opens Against Wiessner with Zeoli and Penttinen Lurking

World No.1 Morten Jaksland finished as the runner-up at the 2019 World Singles Championship. Two years later, he returns seeking to turn that silver into gold. He’s been dealt a tough opening match against Christian Wiessner though. While the German has never managed to beat Jaksland, he has pushed him close on a handful of occasions, including at the 2019 IWT Berlin Open where a 22-20 tennis set victory handed Jaksland a slender win.

Another German is in action in the second match, as Simon Vaclahovsky takes on Latvia’s Arturs Zaicevs. These two produced one of the most thrilling matches at the World Championships two years ago. Zaicevs battled back from a huge deficit to win the tennis set 21-6 and then follow it up with a gummiarm victory to seal victory in spectacular fashion. Could we see fireworks once again?

Morten Jaksland was the runner-up in 2019? (Image: Rene Zwald)

Our first wildcard is in action in the next match. The last time we saw Joshua Zeoli play singles, he came within three points of beating Morten Jaksland at the 2017 IWT Club La Santa Open. Now, the German returns with an opener against Mandrin Mouchet. This is actually the Frenchman’s first tournament of the season. We last saw him in action at last year’s GRAWE sidebyside Austrian Open, where he defeated Michael Moitzi, Mohammed Tarik Koubaa and Martin Abrami on his way to a bronze medal.

Two of racketlon’s best young talents feature in the final match in quarter one. Luka Penttinen is the No.5 seed and he launches his campaign for the title against Yannic Andrey. The young Swiss wildcard has improved greatly but will still need to be at his absolute best to defeat Penttinen, who currently holds a 6-0 head to head lead in their series.

Quarter Two: Blockbuster Section Sees Griffiths vs. Eliasson and Hougaard vs. Jønsson

With Leon Griffiths, Magnus Eliasson, Kasper Jønsson and Jesper Ratzer all lurking unseeded in the draw, we knew we were going to get some blockbuster matches. What we weren’t expecting, was for three of these players to land right next to each other.

In fact, Magnus Eliasson’s return to the World Championships is set to endure a tough start. Eliasson opens his campaign against Leon Griffiths, who is the reigning U21 World Champion and finished as the European Championship runner-up in 2017. Unsurprisingly given their age difference, these two have never met on the FIR World Tour before.

Remarkably, the winner of that match will take on either No.4 seed Kresten Hougaard or Kasper Jønsson. Since 2014, these dynamic Danes have met on five separate occasions, with Jønsson leading the head-to-head 4-1. However, it was Hougaard that snatched a win in their last meeting back in 2018. Will Jønsson be able to roll back the years and shock the No.4 seed?

Magnus Eliasson is back competing in the World Singles Championship (Image: Alex Rieck)

There are two other matches in this quarter of the draw, and both feature Frenchman. After winning the Men’s B Singles at the last World Championship, Loïc Cencig is making the step up to the elite level. His campaign begins against No.8 seed Nicolas Lenggenhager. It’s a groundbreaking moment for the Swiss star in his home country, as he is seeded at a World Championship for the first time. The two are yet to meet on the FIR World Tour, despite having almost identical all-time win-loss records.

The final match in this section sees two more elite draw debutants; Florian Harca and Anthony Duthuillé. Harca is having a superb breakout season, having won the Romanian Open Challenger and also producing a superb comeback to beat Matthew Davidson in the U21 Singles final at last month’s SWT GRAWE sidebyside 15. Austrian Open.  On the other side of the court from him is Anthony Duthuillé. The Frenchman has had a quiet year so far but will fancy a win here against a youngster still learning his way on the elite circuit.

Quarter Three: Schöpf Leads Intriguing Section

While quarter one and two have boasted players with big elite pedigree, quarter three contains a mix of newer faces. SWT GRAWE sidebyside 15. Austrian Open champion Emanuel Schöpf headlines the quarter, with his new No.4 world ranking marking him as the No.3 seed. He opens against 2019 breakthrough star Michal Kurek. After bursting onto the scene two years ago, Kurek has been absent in 2021, having last played in Vienna at the start of 2020.

The next match down the draw sees India’s Adarsh Vikram Narayanaswamy take on Great Britain’s Ray Jordan. With wins this season already over Damien Andre, Simon Vaclahovsky and René Lindberg, Narayanaswamy’s improvement is obvious. The Indian No.1 seems set on producing a big run at a major tournament and this could be a big opportunity for him. For Jordan, this is the first time we’ll see him on the court in 2021. The experienced Brit may also have one eye on the Seniors +40 world title, as he competes as the top seed in his first eligible year.

Emanuel Schöpf won his first Super World Tour title at the GRAWE sidebyside Austrian Open last month (Image: rubinfoto.com)

Perhaps the most eye-catching match in quarter three is Oliver Bühler against Luke Griffiths. These are two players who have both only played one other tournament, but both ended up on the podium. Bühler finished as runner-up at the IWT Swiss Open while Griffiths took bronze at the IWT London Open. This is also Griffiths’ elite debut at the World Singles Championship.

Unfortunately in this section, No. 6 seed Duncan Stahl has been forced to withdraw due to injury. He was due to face Mohammed Tarik Koubaa in the first round. We are still waiting for confirmation on how this will affect the draw.

Quarter Four: Defending Champion Ratzer to Open Against Hageraats

Five-time defending champion Jesper Ratzer is back looking to make it a record-equalling sixth crown. First up for the legendary Dane is Koen Hageraats. Like Harca, Hageraats won his first elite title this year, blowing apart the field earlier this month in Rotterdam. As arguably the best table tennis player on the FIR World Tour, he looks likely to take a strong lead against Ratzer early on.

The winner of that match will take on either No. 7 seed Sylvain Ternon or Czech star Michal Horácek. Ternon broke new ground earlier this year when he entered the top-10 of the world rankings for the first time.  That came after he finished third at the IWT Swiss Open. On the other hand, this is a season debut for Horácek as he looks to get back in the swing of things. The last time we saw him compete was at the World Championships two years ago, where he fell to Schöpf in the second round.

Dan Busby is the No.2 seed in the tournament (Image: rubinfoto.com)

Max Plettenberg is the final wildcard in the draw, with the German opening against René Lindberg. He earned his wildcard after a number of impressive results and will now test himself against the top-20 ranked Swede. Lindberg looked solid earlier in the month at the IWT Rotterdam Open. He defeated Duncan Stahl and also took out Joel Pennanen on his way to a sixth-place finish.

The final match in the draw sees No.2 seed Dan Busby take on Damien Andre. Busby is looking to put the disappointment of Austria behind him, after coming close to a first Super World Tour title. He’ll take some solace from the fact that he’s played Andre before, winning comfortably before tennis at the 2019 IWT Swiss Open. However, Andre has improved since then, recording wins over Simon Vaclahovsky and Duncan Stahl earlier this month.

The full Men’s A Singles draw is available here.

The Women’s A Singles preview is available here, the Juniors is available here, the Seniors is available here and the Amateurs is available here.

You can watch every main draw match from the Men’s A Singles on streamster.tv across the weekend.

Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer

Image Credit / Rene Zwald

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