Zuzana Severinová won a thrilling Women’s Singles final against Anna-Klara Ahlmer to be crowned the IWT Czech Open champion.
The Czech star won by one point in the final at her home tournament – the first time she’s won an elite singles tournament in Czechia.
In the Men’s Singles final, Leon Griffiths overpowered Luka Penttinen to win his second title of the month.
Women’s Singles – Ahlmer Ends Jacobsen’s 21-Match Unbeaten Streak
For the third tournament in a row, Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Stine Jacobsen were drawn to face each other in the first round of the Women’s Singles. In fact, the two have met in every single tournament that they’ve entered this year, with Jacobsen winning each contest. That run, and her 21 match unbeaten run, ended in Prague.
After the badminton, Jacobsen looked to be in a great position as she led by eight. Ahlmer then produced a squash set of the highest quality, crushing Jacobsen to nine to leave her needing 18 on the tennis court.
Jacobsen has typically outmanoeuvred Ahlmer on the tennis court but the Swede kept her level high after the squash. Her tennis was fantastic. Each point was carefully carved out, with Ahlmer continuing to push Jacobsen wider and wider. In the end, an uncharacteristic Jacobsen double-fault handed the victory to Ahlmer and ensured that Jacobsen would not end the season with a perfect singles record.
The semi-final was a more comfortable affair for Ahlmer. She faced Martina Meißl, who was into the semi-finals after a comfortable win over American debutant Stephanie Chung. Ahlmer won the first three sports in close contests, leaving her needing just seven on the tennis court. Continuing where she left off against Jacobsen, Ahlmer won 7-1 to book her spot in the final.
Amke Fischer’s withdrawal gave Zuzana Severinová a bye through to the semi-finals where she took on Natalie Paul. The German had battled to a hard-fought victory against France’s Margaux Randjbar but came unstuck in the semi-final against Severinová.
The Czech star opened up a superb 21-9 table tennis advantage and extended that with a 21-10 squash victory. A 21-16 badminton loss wasn’t enough for Paul to get back in the match and Severinová advanced to the Women’s Singles final at the IWT Czech Open for the second time.
Women’s Singles – Severinová Beats Ahlmer in “Match of the Year” Contender
FIR President Duncan Stahl described this match as the best Women’s Singles final we’ve had this year and the best that he’s seen live in a number of years.
That should tell you exactly how high-quality this contest was. All four sports were extremely competitive and played at an exceptional standard by both women.
The first two sports went the way of the Swede. Anna-Klara Ahlmer wrestled control of the match when she took table tennis 21-16 and then badminton 21-15. She remained in the ascendency, despite losing the squash 21-17. However, on the tennis court, Severinová was sensational.
The Czech barely made an error all set and forced a number out of Ahlmer. The Swede needed 15 to win and 14 for a gummiarm. She made it to 13 but Severinová held her nerve to take an incredible victory. She raised her arms and sank to her knees as Ahlmer’s forehand landed long before the two shared a heartwarming embrace at the net.
After her triumph in Austria two months ago, that is Severinová’s second singles title of the season and third of her career. Her on-court reaction would suggest it meant more to her than the other two, especially winning in her home country. It is a perfect way to end her season. Ahlmer has one more chance of winning a second title at December’s IWT Club La Santa Open.
The full Women’s Singles results are available here.
Men’s Singles – Griffiths’ Route to the Final
He may not have been seeded yet due to his ranking, but Leon Griffiths was undeniably the favourite ahead of the IWT Czech Open Men’s Singles draw. The Brit had just won the SWT Dubai Racketlon Classic and finished runner-up in the World Singles Championship. So it was not surprising to see him cruise through to the final in Prague.
Finland’s Joel Pennanen was his first-round opponent and actually acquitted himself very well. Griffiths won the first two sports 21-13 and 21-11 but Pennanen refused to give up, winning a hard-fought squash 21-18 to force tennis. Griffiths won to set up a quarter-final clash with Christian Wiessner.
The German had a bye through the first round after Duncan Stahl had been forced to withdraw through injury. Griffiths was more confident in this contest, winning the first three sports to leave himself needing just one in tennis.
No.3 seed Nicolas Lenggenhager had flown through a tricky quarter to set up a semi-final against Griffiths. The Swiss player beat Christian Schaefer in the first round, before taking out Polish wildcard Mateusz Skorek.
Through two and a half sets, Lenggenhager kept pace with Griffiths. The Brit only won the table tennis 21-18 before the Swiss retaliated with a superb 23-21 badminton victory. It was even fairly tight at the halfway point in the squash. Sensing he was in a real fight, Griffiths turned it up a gear. He won the squash 21-12 and finished the match off with a 21-10 tennis victory to book his spot in a fourth final of the year.
Men’s Singles – Penttinen’s Route to the Final
Luka Penttinen was the top seed in the draw but almost saw his campaign early on Saturday morning. The Finn was first up against Michal Kurek but had to win on a gummiarm to reach the quarter-finals. Kurek trailed by 21 after badminton but a sensational 21-6 squash win brought him back in the match.
With Penttinen struggling physically, Kurek won the tennis 21-15 and forced a gummiarm out of Penttinen. Ultimately, the Finn survived, beating Kurek to advance to the quarter-finals.
From the quarter-finals onwards, it was a much smoother ride for the top seed. First, he took out doubles partner Tommi Laine, after the fellow Finn had received a bye through the first round. In the semi-final, he eliminated wildcard Martin Sopko. The Czech player had been superb in reaching the semi-final, taking out Max Plettenberg and No.4 seed Oliver Bühler. That win saw Penttinen into his second final of the season, after the IWT Dunlop Rotterdam Open.
Men’s Singles – Griffiths Dominates Penttinen in Final
Going into the final, Leon Griffiths held a remarkable 10-0 head-to-head record against Luka Penttinen. It was always going to be a tough ask for the Finn to record his first win over the Brit, especially with the form Griffiths was in.
Ultimately, the match was a one-sided affair. Penttinen snuck a hard-fought table tennis 21-19. That lead was not enough heading into badminton. After a tight beginning to the set, Griffiths opened up, eventually rolling to a comfortable 21-9 victory. That left Penttinen deflated and Griffiths capitalised, winning the squash 21-7 to seal a dominant victory before tennis.
That is now Griffiths’ third singles title of the 2021 season and we see him surge into the top-10 of the rankings at the start of November. He also draws level with fellow Brit Dan Busby on five career elite singles titles and is now at =12th on the all-time leaderboard.
The full Men’s Singles results are available here.
A full report from the non-elite categories will be coming later this week.
Interested in playing racketlon in 2021? Entry is still open for December’s IWT Club La Santa Open.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / Filip Rejthars