Leon Griffiths to Face Jesper Ratzer in Final | World Singles Championship

Leon Griffiths will face five-time defending champion Jesper Ratzer in the final of the Men’s Singles at the World Singles Championship.

Griffiths advanced to his first World Singles Championship final after defeating Morten Jaksland in a high-quality semi-final.

Ratzer prevented an all-Griffiths final after knocking out younger brother Luke Griffiths in the first semi-final of the day.

Leon Griffiths Takes Out the World No.1

It’s felt inevitable for some time that Leon Griffiths would reach the World Singles Championship final. The Brit has been a multiple Juniors World Champion and reached the final of the 2017 European Championships. Now, he’s into the biggest match of them all.

The Brit came into this match with a 3-1 losing head-to-head record against Jaksland but won their most recent meeting before tennis in London two years ago. Today’s match followed a similar pattern.

Griffiths made the faster start to the match, taking an important table tennis 21-16. Ability wise, table tennis is probably their closest sport, so to win that was a huge moment for the 22-year-old.

One of the reasons he won in London before tennis was his 21-3 badminton. While he wasn’t quite as ruthless in Switzerland, he still won 21-6 to lead by 20 points before the squash.

Jaksland had been playing some fantastic squash all weekend, and that continued for the first three-quarters of the set. He was up at the turn and lead 16-13 after winning a number of long, punishing rallies. At that moment, Griffiths took it up a gear. The Dane suddenly had no answer and Griffiths rattled off eight straight points to win 21-16 and seal the victory before tennis.

Ratzer Ends Luke Griffiths’ Fairytale Run

Luke Griffiths’ run to the semi-finals in his first elite World Singles Championship had been one of the weekend’s best stories. That came to an end on Sunday morning at the hands of five-time World Champion Jesper Ratzer.

The great Dane raced ahead in that table tennis, a set that Griffiths knew he had to win if he was to have any chance of shocking the superstar. Ratzer pulled 6-1 ahead and never gave up his lead, eventually recording a 21-14 victory.

Badminton felt like a much affair. After Griffiths began to figure out Ratzer’s deception early, the 18-year-old stuck close with him. Both players were dominating on the return of serve and the match was extremely close until early in the second half. Much like Leon Griffiths in the squash, Ratzer produced a near-flawless second half to eventually pull away from a frustrated Griffiths and win 21-14.

That 14 point lead was always going to be tough to overcome for Griffiths heading to the squash. Ratzer’s squash had been improving all weekend and was impressive against Griffiths, despite the youngster putting up a spirited fight. Eventually, Ratzer took the squash with a 21-9 victory to seal his spot in the World Singles Championship once again.

A word for Luke Griffiths who, aged just 18, has had an unforgettable debut. It seems unlikely that this is the last time we’ll see him in the semi-finals and he still has a chance at a medal as he takes on Morten Jaksland for bronze.

Leon Griffiths vs. Jesper Ratzer

That leaves us with a final showdown between two of racketlon’s biggest names. Arguably the greatest of all time, Jesper Ratzer, against one of the brightest stars in the new era of racketlon, Leon Griffiths.

The two have played on four previous occasions, with Ratzer winning all four. That does not tell the whole story though, as Griffiths was a teenager in all of those matches. The Brit has sailed through the draw without dropping a set, an incredible feat given he’s knocked out Morten Jaksland, Magnus Eliasson, Kasper Jønsson and Florian Harca.

Jesper Ratzer though is chasing some history of his own. Unbeaten in eight years and on a winning streak of over 100 matches, Ratzer is also only one title away from moving to 40 career titles. That will take him one above Magnus Eliasson and out on his own at the top of the all-time standings. 

He’s also only one world title behind Mikko Karkkainen. The Finn leads the all-time standings on six while Ratzer currently sits at five. He has six majors in total after also winning the 2015 European Championships. 

Make sure you watch this unmissable match. The full match will be streamed with commentary on streamster.tv here from 14:00CET.

The full results from the Men’s Singles are available here.

Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer

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