Germany is the new World Cup Champion after beating Austria in a mesmerising final that was won by just one points. For the second night in a row, heroics from Christian Wiessner helped Germany win the match, after he won the last five points of an unmissable tennis set with Georg Stoisser.
Elsewhere, Florian Harca caused one of the biggest shocks in recent World Championships history as he knocked out top seed Morten Jaksland in the first round of the OVB Team Thausing Men’s Elite Singles.Jaksland was not the only seed to exit the competition early, with five of the eight-seeded players crashing out on a chaotic day of racketlon.
The World Doubles Championship came to a close and it was also a superb day for Zuzana Severinová. The Czech picked up two World Championship titles on Friday. The World Singles No.1 defended her Energie Steiermark Women’s Elite Doubles world title with Stine Jacobsen. Later in the day, she picked up the Austria Trend Hotel Europa Mixed Elite Doubles title with Leon Griffiths.
The Nations Cup was won by India, who defeated defending champions Great Britain II. USA beat Hong Kong in a thriller in the Challenge Cup final to win a first-ever medal at the World Teams Championships.
Energie Graz World Cup – Teams
Germany versus Austria. That was the semi-final that we were left with after the incredible semi-finals on Thursday night. It seems only fitting that the final should be as epic.
Germany fielded Max Plettenberg and Christian Wiessner as the two singles players, with Thorsten Lentfer and Cornelius Radermacher playing doubles. Nathalie Vogel played singles. For Austria, Singles hero Florian Harca lined up against Plettenberg, with Georg Stoisser facing Wiessner. Bettina Bugl took on Vogel. Despite his heroic performance against Great Britain, there would be no place for Emanuel Schöpf. Marcel Weigl and Lukas Windischberger were the two chosen to play doubles.
Germany was the team that made the faster start. Some prolific table tennis performances saw them roll into a +8 lead. Momentum swung the way of the hosts after the badminton as they took an overall four-point lead. An 11-3 squash win for Plettenberg was the catalyst for Germany to move back ahead by a single point heading into tennis.
Max Plettenberg produced a superb tennis set to snatch 10 points. Bettina Bugl then won for Austria before a retaliation from Radermacher and Lentfer. That left Austria leading by two points with one set remaining. Wiessner had been the hero in the semi-final and he managed it once again. Stoisser made it to 8-6 and needed just one more point to reach a gummiarm. Instead, the German rattled off five straight points to seal it for Germany.
One of the best runs to a World Cup we’ve ever seen. A gummiarm victory in the semi-finals. A one point victory in the final. For the first time since 2013, Germany is the World Teams Champion.
OVB Team Thausing Men’s Elite Singles
It was a horrible day to be a seeded player in the OVB Team Thausing Men’s Elite Singles, with five of the eight seeded players crashing out in the first round.
The biggest shock of the day came in the day’s first match, as teenage Austrian Florian Harca produced the best result of his life to stun top seed Morten Jaksland with some flawless tennis. In front of a jam-packed centre-court crowd, Harca delighted the big Austrian crowd, falling to the flaw in delight after slamming a forehand winner past Jaksland to win by three points.
“I was leading 18-15 I think, and he came to 18-18,” Harca explained after his final. “I was like ‘when you lose them, lose brave’. Then I hit two shots with risks and both went in!”
Speaking about whether he thought he could beat Jaksland before the match, he said “I believe it was possible because if I play good I can beat him because of the profile.”
“I played good table tennis, good badminton, okay squash – I knew that I would lose. But tennis is an open game. He’s playing good but I’m also a tennis player. I was lucky at the end of it and it went good!”.
Elsewhere, seeds five through eight were all eliminated on a dramatic opening day of competition. Nicolas Lenggenhager fell at the hands of Malte Thyregod, who played sensational badminton set to win 21-11. After his heroics in the World Cup the night before, Emanuel Schöpf lost to Latvia’s Arturs Zaicevs by 10 points.
Duncan Stahl was dealt a defeat early in the day at the hands of Cornelius Radermacher. One of the pre-tournament favourites, Koen Hageraats also got his campaign up and running with a win over No.8 seed Oliver Bühler.
No.2 seed Leon Griffiths and No.4 seed Luka Penttinen both won their openers comfortably against Mohammed Tarik Koubaa and Anthony Duthuillé. No.3 seed Kresten Hougaard looked in serious trouble of becoming the sixth seed to tumble. He trailed Damien Andre in tennis before mounting a superb late comeback to win by three points.
Elsewhere, there were opening-round wins for René Lindberg, Max Plettenberg, Adarsh Vikram Narayanaswamy, Georg Stoisser, Matthew Davidson and Simon Vaclahovsky. On his World Championships debut, Sion Wiggin produced massive tennis to beat Christian Wiessner and set up a second-round match with Leon Griffiths.
Holding Graz Women’s Elite Singles
The four seeded players sat out day one of the tournament, after receiving a bye through to the quarter-finals. Instead, it was the eight remaining players who battled to join them.
In the end, it was the higher-ranked player that won every match. Irina Olsacher kicked things off with a dominant win over Krystyna Głógiewicz before tennis. Bettina Bugl then took out Nicole Eisler with an impressive +19 victory.
The closest match of the first round came as Martina Meißl took on Astrid Reimer-Kern. The German, who reached the final last year, trailed by eight points heading into squash. However, a dominant 21-6 win followed by a 15-6 tennis victory sealed her spot in the quarter-finals. Nathalie Vogel was the last player to qualify, beating Helena Pfanzagl before tennis.
That leaves us with four hugely exciting quarter-final matches to enjoy on Saturday afternoon. Defending champion Stine Jacobsen will face Irina Olsacher, with Bettina Bugl and Myriam Enmer facing off to complete the top half.
In the bottom half, Anna-Klara Ahlmer begins her campaign against last year’s runner-up, Astrid Reimer-Kern. The final, and potentially most fascinating encounter, sees two-time world champion Nathalie Vogel face the world No.1 Zuzana Severinová.
Energie Steiermark Women’s Elite Doubles
After a day’s rest, the Energie Steiermark Women’s Elite Doubles was held at Friday lunchtime. A matchup of Anna-Klara Ahmer and Myriam Enmer against Stine Jacobsen and Zuzana Severinová has become common in the last 12 months. This time, the pairs would meet in the World Championships final.
Jacobsen and Severinová were the defending champions but started slowly after losing the table tennis 21-15. There’s a reason that the pair are 10-0 in their matches as a pair together though. They fought back in badminton and squash, winning 21-12 and 21-16. That left them needing 13 on the tennis court.
Ahlmer and Enmer are two brilliant tennis players, but Jacobsen’s tennis is tough to handle. In the end, the defending champions won 13-11 to seal the victory by 10 points and ensure that they defended the title they won last year. If they return to defend it again next year, they could become the first duo ever to win three consecutive world championship titles.
Martina Meißl and Irina Olsacher also finished on the podium after beating Nicole Eisler and Krystyna Głógiewicz for bronze.
The full Energie Steiermark Women’s Elite Doubles results are available here.
Austria Trend Hotel Europa Mixed Elite Doubles
Having earlier won the Women’s Doubles final, Zuzana Severinová was back searching for more silverware. She was competing alongside Leon Griffiths against Nathalie Vogel and Morten Jaksland.
Through the first two sports, the match was very tight. Severinová and Griffiths snuck the table tennis 21-19 before slightly extending that lead to 21-18 after the badminton. The decisive moments came on the squash court.
After Severinová gave him a healthy lead, Griffiths dominated the second half of squash. The Brit was superb against Jaksland, eventually taking it 21-8 to all but seal the title.
They needed four points in tennis and secured it with the score at 4-7. A first World Championship Mixed Doubles title for both former Juniors World Champions.
It also means that both players are now searching for the highest honour of all – a World Championships Triple Crown. This is because Leon Griffiths won the Men’s Doubles title alongside brother Luke Griffiths on Thursday.
Stine Jacobsen and Cornelius Radermacher saw off the challenge of Myriam Enmer and Damien Andre to clinch the bronze medal.
The full Austria Trend Hotel Europa Mixed Elite Doubles results are available here.
In order to defend their Nations Cup title from three years ago, Great Britain II would need to beat India in the final of the Nations Cup. That would prove an impossible task.
The Indians only led by five after the table tennis. That lead extended to 12 points after the badminton, with Sidharth Nandal, in particular, inflicting damage. Great Britain hoped to fight back in the squash but found the going tough. India won all four sets and was suddenly 28 points down.
Adarsh Vikram Narayanaswamy had been superb throughout the tournament, finishing with a flourish to win 11-4 and secure the title for India.
Speaking after the victory Narayanaswamy said “It’s a great feeling, to be frank. Last time we won the Challenge Cup and this time it was a bigger challenge without one of our main players [Singh] but everyone stepped up to the occasion and it was a great experience for all of us. We enjoyed it”.
That’s now back-to-back titles for the young Racketlon nation. India won the Challenge Cup in 2019 and has also added the Nations Cup. It’ll be the World Cup next year, as they look to make their debut on the biggest stage in racketlon.
As if we didn’t see enough Teams drama on Thursday night, there was more of it early on in the Challenge Cup final on Friday morning. USA versus Hong Kong China was a historic match, as two non-European nations squared off in a World Teams Championship final for the first time.
Things looked bleak for Team USA after the badminton. Hong Kong dominated to lead by 20 points at the halfway stage of the match. With just three sets left, Hong Kong led by over 20 points. Stephanie Chung, Shree Dhond and Joanne Schickerling then delivered a tennis masterclass. An 11-3 set followed by an 11-0 set left them in control.
Alex Porush then sealed a historic comeback victory with a win over Hei Nam Long to ensure that the Nations Cup will head back to the USA. A first podium and a first gold for the USA, as it now heads into 2023 looking to make its Nations Cup debut.
Best of the Rest
It’s early stages in the Amateurs singles categories, with the first rounds being played in all categories, and the odd second round as well.
In the Villach Tourismus Men’s B Singles, top seed Patrick Oettl is out after withdrawing. There was drama lower down the draw, with Austria’s Jonas Grafeneder winning a gummiarm against No.7 seed Eric Durand. A number of seeds tumbled out of the competition, but big names like Sidharth Nandal, Léon Mamié and Josselin Gadé are all still competing.
After winning the Women’s B Doubles title together yesterday, Stephanie Chung and Joanne Schikerling both made winning starts. The eight seeded players will all begin their campaign on Saturday.
The Men’s C Singles saw two rounds of action, with the top six seeds all being eliminated in a shocking day of action. Lucas Steyer, who won the Juniors U16 Singles title a week ago, is the highest seed left at No.7. In the quarter-finals, he could meet Mixed U16 Doubles champion Aadith K A, after he eliminated James Trueman in the second round.
There was gummiarm drama in the Men’s D Singles, as Lukas Laipold beat Jérémy Girard in the first round. NO.2 seed Hei Nam Lee is the highest still in the tournament after top seed Leo Hörtinger withdrew.
All the latest news about the FIR Racketlon World Championships is available here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / rubinfoto.com