Swedish Players Dominate in Riga | IWT Latvian Open

It was a superb IWT Latvian Open for Swedish players as they came away with a handful of medals in the Senior and Amateur categories.

While Anna-Klara Ahlmer triumphed in the elite categories, there were further titles for René Lindberg, Stefan Nilsson and Anders Gustafsson.

Outside of Swedish success, there were titles for Kirsten Kaptein, Christian Schaefer, Leigh Sands and Sanita Sveile. Rachid Bech-Azedddine enjoyed one of the weekend’s best stories as he won the Men’s +50 Singles title on his debut.

Here is the report from all of the Senior and Amateur classes at the IWT Latvian Open.

Men’s B Singles – Nilsson Dominates Box League

In the Men’s B Singles preview, we acknowledged that this category was largely one full of players making comebacks. In the end, it was Sweden’s Stefan Nilsson whose comeback was the most successful.

The match between the eventual winner and runner-up ended up being the first. Stefan Nilsson beat Michael Strässle in the opening match, winning three of the four sports to triumph by 29 points. In the other opening match, Roland Pichler defeated Ivo Keiss by 24 points thanks to dominant table tennis and squash.

The second round of matches saw Nilsson dismantle Keiss thanks to single-figure wins in table tennis, squash and tennis. Strässle got his campaign up and running with the closest match of the tournament, edging out Roland Pichler by three points.

Stefan Nilsson was victorious for Sweden in the Men’s B Singles (Image: Aksels Ambergs)

Strässle recorded his second win of the box league after beating Ivo Keiss by a single point – winning on a gummiarm. Two dramatic victories for the Swiss player. Pichler could have forced a gummiarm playoff if he could beat Nilsson. The Swede continued his imperious form though, beating Pichler by 17 points to secure the title.

Strässle’s two wins finished as runner-up while Pichler took home the bronze medal.

The full Men’s B Singles results are available here.

Men’s B Doubles – Lindberg and Nilsson Win All-Swedish Final

In keeping with the theme of Swedish success, the Men’s B Final was an all-Swedish affair. René Lindberg and Stefan Nilsson took on Magnus Åberg and Anders Gustafsson after battling their way into the last two.

Åberg and Gustafsson had the longest journey to the final. They won their first two matches before tennis, first beating Timm Rannu and Meelis Seppam before then taking out top seeds Graham King and Peter Robic. Their semi-final was a mighty battle against Rachid-Azeddine and Roland Pichler. Despite all four sports being tight, it was Åberg and Gustafsson who triumphed by six points.

Lindberg and Nilsson enjoyed a smoother road to the Latvian Open final. Their first win against home players Janis Jenzis and Ilgvars Uzuls was mightily impressive before a semi-final battle against Christian Schaefer and Michael Strässle. Despite leading by three points after badminton, Schaefer and Strässle couldn’t finish the job. A crushing 21-9 squash victory helped Lindberg and Nilsson into the final.

The final itself was a one-way affair. Lindberg and Nilsson won the table tennis 21-13 and never looked back. In the end, they were victorious by 28 points, with both players adding a second trophy to their collection from the weekend.

Schaefer and Strässle grabbed the bronze medal after defeating Bech-Azeddine and Pichler.

The full Men’s B Doubles results are available here.

Mixed B Doubles – Sands Wins on Return as Sveile Enjoys More Home Success

The Mixed B Doubles was the first category completed mid-afternoon on Friday and it was Sanita Sveile and Leigh Sands that emerged victorious.

The duo, playing together for the first time, lost just one set and ultimately soared to the title in impressive style. Their first win came before tennis, beating Vizma Simane and Kristjan Teeäär before tennis.

The title was sealed almost immediately after. Sveile and Sands returned to court straight away to take on Latvian pair Agnese Logosa and Arturs Dzirkalis. This was a tougher match, with the pairs level after badminton. Sveile and Sands dominated the squash 21-3 to all but seal their title.

It was an awesome moment for both. Sands was competing in his first tournament since the Indian Open in 2020 and managed to win a first-ever Mixed Doubles title. For Sveile, it’s a third different Latvian Open trophy. In 2016 she won the Women’s B Singles and in 2018 the Women’s +40 Singles. Now, she can add the Mixed B Doubles crown to her collection.

Latvian pair Logosa and Dzirkalis snatched the silver medal after defeating Simane and Teeäär.

The full Mixed B Doubles results are available here.

Men’s C Singles – Gustafsson Beats Szlazak in Final of the Tournament

Not only did the Men’s C Singles category have the most players, but it also had the most drama in the final. In the end, it was two seeds that made it to the final in Poland’s Rafał Szlazak and Sweden’s Anders Gustafsson.

Szlazak has had a superb season already this year after winning the Men’s C Singles title in Paris. He demonstrated exactly why he was the top seed in the draw on his path to the final. He cruised past Latvia’s Kristaps Zveja in the first round before recording another relatively comfortable win against Estonia’s Kristjan Teeäär in the quarter-finals.

The semi-final against Sweden’s Jonas Warne was his toughest test. The Pole won the table tennis 21-6 but lost the badminton and squash narrowly. That table tennis scoreline did enough to help him into the final.

Anders Gustafsson produces a superb display to beat Szlazak and win the Men’s C Singles trophy (Imge: Aksels Ambergs)

Gustafsson’s path was even more comfortable than Szlazak. The Swedish third seed didn’t need his tennis racket as he took out Mareks Zeilins, Aivars Lucijanovs and No.2 seed Seppo Raiski.

In the final it was Szlazak who raced into the lead. The Swede cruised to a super 21-8 victory on the table tennis table before Gustafsson edged the badminton 21-19. The Swede then took a two shot lead into tennis after winning squash 21-8. The tennis was neck-and-neck throughout, eventually getting to 20-20. Szlazak needed to win to force a gummiarm but it was Gustafsson who snuck a 22-20 title to collect his first ever international racketlon title.

There would be two seeds on the podium as Warne beat Raiski to join Gustafsson and Szlazak.

The full Men’s C Singles results are available here.

Men’s +40 Singles – Schaefer Shines in Seniors Debut

2022 is the first year that Christian Schaefer is eligible to play on the Seniors Circuit and he’s made a fast start. One tournament, one trophy.

His route to the title began with a victory over Timm Rannu, capped by a sublime 21-0 squash win. Graham King had beaten Latvia’s Vadims Culka in the first round but found Schaefer too dominant on the badminton court. Schaefer took down King before tennis to reach the final.

Facing him was Latvia’s Uldis Dzirkalis. The home favourite had received a bye through his first-round match against Manfred Grab. He then recorded a superb comeback victory over Sweden’s Magnus Åberg, winning the tennis 21-11 to record a +4 victory after a topsy-turvy semi-final.

In the final, Dzirkalis came out of the blocks faster, winning the table tennis 21-12. Schaefer began to wrestle the momentum back, first taking the badminton 21-18 before securing a crushing 21-6 squash victory. The Swiss top seed then won the tennis 13-9 to collect the title in Riga.

Schaefer has not yet entered the World Championships next month. But as the Seniors World No.3 and as a champion here in Latvia, could we see him enter the tournament late on?

The full Men’s +40 Singles results are available here.

Women’s +40 Singles – Kaptein Lives Up to Billing as Top Seed

Top seed Kirsten Kaptein was joined in a Women’s +40 Singles Box League by Latvia’s Vizma Simane and Sanita Sveile.

Kaptein was the player with the rankings and the experience, leaving here as the heavy favourite. However, Sveile has a history in Riga, having won this very category four years ago.

In the end, Kaptein’s experience shone through. The former Women’s Seniors World No.1 did not need her tennis racket as she worked her way to victory against both women to collect her third Women’s +40 Singles title since November 2021.

Sveile finished second after defeating Simane to earn herself a silver medal.

The full Women’s +40 Singles results are available here.

Men’s +50 Singles – Bech-Azeddine Fights Hard to Win on Debut

Debut titles don’t come much more hard-fought than Rachid Bech-Azeddine’s at the Latvian Open. The Dane landed in Group B of the six-player field alongside Rafał Szlazak and Kimmo Pennanen.

Both of Bech-Azeddine’s matches went right down to the wire. Firstly, he edged Kimmo Pennanen by just four points. The Dane actually lost three of the sports, but a 21-2 badminton win was enough for him to leave the contest victorious.

Szlazak then beat Pennanen by six points which left the pair facing off for a spot in the final. If Bech-Azeddine’s first match was close, this was even tighter. The Dane trailed by seven points before tennis but held his nerve to win 21-13, defeating Szlazak by just two points.

The other group did not quite have the same drama. Jonas Warne was the star of the show, dominating both of his matches against Graham King and Seppo Raiski to cruise into the final – a welcome run for him after narrowly missing out on the final in the Seniors +40 Singles.

Rachid Bech-Azeddine enjoys an unforgettable debut (Image: Aksels Ambergs)

After working so hard to reach the final, Bech-Azeddine was brimming with confidence. The Dane took a commanding lead, winning the first two sports 21-16 and 21-7. While Warne took the squash 21-10, it was too little, too late. Bech-Azeddine won the tennis 14-10 to win a hugely impressive title on his Racketlon World Tour debut.

Szlazak got himself on yet another podium this season, beating Seppo Raiski in the third-place match.

The full Men’s +50 Singles results are available here.

The full IWT Latvian Open report from the Elite Singles finals is available here, while the report from the Elite Doubles is available here.

Check out the 2022 Racketlon World Tour here. We currently have multiple tournaments open for players of all ages and abilities.

Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer

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