Ahlmer & Griffiths Continue Busy Start to Season | IWT Malta Open

Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Leon Griffiths are the highest seeds this weekend as the FIR Racketlon World Tour heads to Malta.

The IWT Malta Open is the third tournament of the season and begins this Friday at the Marsa Sports Club in Malta.

Anna-Klara Ahlmer leads a four-player Women’s Singles draw that also features last year’s World Championship runner-up Astrid Reimer-Kern, Myriam Enmer and Kirsten Kaptein.

Leon Griffiths takes part in his third tournament of the year and is joined in Malta by fellow top 10 players Kresten Hougaard, Nicolas Lenggenhager and Duncan Stahl.

Men’s Singles – Griffiths Headlines the Draw as he Chases a Second 2022 Title

Leon Griffiths has been an active presence on the Racketlon World Tour in 2022. The world No.3 took part in the IWT French Open and Nick Matthew Steel City Open and now heads to Malta to complete a busy start to the season.

The British star opens his tournament in Malta by taking on Michal Kurek. The Pole is making his season debut after last competing at the IWT Czech Open where he lost in the first round to eventual finalist Luka Penttinen on a gummiarm. It’s a tough start to the tournament for Kurek as he takes on the top seed.

Kurek is not the only Pole in the draw though. Current World Championship Men’s B Singles champion Mateusz Skorek has also made the journey to Malta. Skorek only made his racketlon debut last year but has already marked himself as a player to watch following the exceptional start he’s made to his career.

Skorek begins in the first round against Malte Thyregod. The Danish badminton star is returning to the World Tour for the first time since 2019, after sitting out the 2021 season.

This will be the first time that the two will compete again each other and should be an eye-catching clash of styles, with Thyregod stronger across the front two and Skorek coming into his own on the squash court. The winner of that match will advance to the quarter-final to take on Duncan Stahl, who is the No.4 seed.

Men’s Singles – Former Champion Hougaard Returns to Malta

In 2017, Kresten Hougaard stood proudly on top of the Malta Open podium after beating Morten Jaksland in the final to collect the trophy. Five years later, the Danish star is back, hoping to succeed for a second time.

His opening match comes against Croatia’s Nikola Mikac. The pair have faced each other once before, although that came seven years ago when Hougaard convincingly beat Mikac in the Czech Open quarter-finals.

Kresten Hougaard beat Morten Jaksland to win the IWT Malta Open in 2017 (Image: Inge Omey)

Nicolas Lenggenhager is the other seed in the bottom half of the draw. The world No.7 receives a bye through to the quarter-finals where he will face either James Langworthy or Anthony Duthuillé.  

Like Griffiths, both Langworthy and Duthuillé have been busy in 2022. They’ve taken part in all three tournaments this year and were actually due to play each other in Paris before Duthuillé was forced to withdraw.

They’ve never met on a singles court before but did face in a doubles match in Lanzarote last December. Duthuillé won on that occasion, beating Langworthy alongside countryman Bertrand Carlier. Will Langworthy get his revenge in Malta?

The full Men’s Singles draw is available here.

Women’s Singles – Ahlmer Headlines Four-Player Box League

Also in the small club of players to have taken part in all three tournaments this year are Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Myriam Enmer. The duo have both landed on the podium in each event so far, with Ahlmer winning the French Open. Will they continue that streak in Malta?

Joining Ahlmer and Enmer is Astrid Reimer-Kern and Kirsten Kaptein. Both players are making their season debut in Malta, with Reimer-Kern competing for the first time since reaching last season’s World Championship final.

In terms of head-to-head records, we have a lot of data. In fact, the only two that have never faced each other are Myriam Enmer and Astrid Reimer-Kern. As the world No.3, it is not surprising that Ahlmer holds a dominant head-to-head record against both Enmer and Kaptein.

Anna-Klara Ahlmer beat Myriam Enmer to win the Women’s Singles title in Paris this year (Image: Jean Michot)

Interestingly, her head-to-head with Reimer-Kern is much tighter. The two have faced off twice before, splitting the results with a win each. However, the last contest came in 2018, with the previous match three years before that in 2015. The exciting third meeting between these two powerhouses of women’s racketlon has been long overdue.

The major narrative in women’s racketlon in 2022 will be the three-way battle for the world No.1 spot between Zuzana Severinová, Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Stine Jacobsen. Severinová currently holds the top spot but with Ahlmer and Jacobsen hot on her heels, every tournament result is crucial this season.

The full Women’s Singles draw is available here.

Mixed Doubles – Enmer and Duthuillé Top Seeds as Reimer-Kern and Hougaard Reunite

The Mixed Doubles draw is a land of opportunity with just four of the eight players involved having previously won a Mixed Doubles title. Two of those players are teaming up as Astrid Reimer-Kern and Kresten Hougaard compete together once again.

The duo previously won the IWT Berlin Open in 2019 and are the No.2 seeds as they hunt for a second trophy together. That victory is Reimer-Kern’s only Mixed Doubles title, while Hougaard has seven in total in his career.

The other two players that have triumphed in the past are Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Myriam Enmer. Ahlmer has six mixed doubles trophies to her name while Enmer collected one earlier this year alongside Damien Andre. It’s a French partner again for Enmer, but this time it’s Anthony Duthuillé lining up alongside her.

Ahlmer’s partner is Denmark’s Malte Thyregod. A Mixed Doubles title has evaded Ahlmer since last year’s Romanian Open Challenger. Could her new teammate prove fruitful as she searches for a 7th career title and a spot in the top 10 of the all-time mixed doubles champions?

The final pair taking to the court is one of the most experienced and successful in the last year. Gaëlle Wavre and Nicolas Lenggenhager played alongside each other three times in 2021, winning eight of their nine matches to take two B-grade titles. In fact, their only loss came in the elite draw in Romania, where they narrowly fell to eventual champions Ahlmer and Mohammed Tarik Koubaa. Could experience pay off in this intriguing draw?

The full Mixed Doubles draw is available here.

Men’s Doubles – World Champion Griffiths Chasing a Second Title of the Season

Last month, Leon Griffiths and his brother Luke won the Nick Matthew Steel City Open Men’s Doubles title. One month later and Leon is back, this time alongside Duncan Stahl. The British duo are the top seeds in the Malta Open draw, sitting at the top of the four-pair bracket.

The draw gods have not been kind to Michal Kurek. After drawing Griffiths in the first round of the singles, he’s also taking on the World Champion in the Men’s Doubles. Kurek is part of an all-Polish pair as he teams up with Mateusz Skorek in Malta.

There may be no Morten Jaksland in Malta, but that isn’t stopping Kresten Hougaard from forming an all-Danish partnership. Malte Thyregod is the man standing alongside Hougaard and they have a fascinating first-round match.

The pair will take on Anthony Duthuillé and Nicolas Lenggenhager, whose position in the top 10 of the rankings see them take the No.2 seedings. Duthuillé, Thyregod and the Polish pair are all seeking a first elite men’s doubles title. Will any of them be able to earn one or will the British pair add to their collection?

The full Men’s Doubles draw is available here.

Keep up with all the action from the IWT Malta Open on Facebook, Instagram and Racketlon.net.

The full preview of the Juniors, Seniors and Amateur categories will be coming soon.

Interested in competing in a Racketlon World Tour event? The full 2022 World Tour is available here with a number of tournaments already open for entry.

Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer

Image / Rene Zwald & Jonas Von Sachs

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