Who Will Be Victorious in Belgium?

After Stockholm and Toronto earlier this year time has now come for Oudenaarde to play host for the third of the four "Super World Tour" events on the 2007 Racketlon World Tour and the last before the world championships in Rotterdam after Christmas.

This year the tournament has returned to its traditional "King of Rackets" name and is marketed as "The 16th Win for Life King of Rackets" showing off a long history of annual multi-racket tournaments in the Recrean sport center since 1992 - although it was as recently as in 2004 that this tournament took up the Racketlon format and joined the Racketlon World Tour (see report from this breakthrough event).

Marching through Oudenaarde. From last year's inauguration ceremony,
when this tournament was recognised as the World Championships.

photo: www.racketlon.be

Tournament management have indicated that "all facilities and activities of the world championships last year" will be kept in place and they have even managed to extend the amount of prize money on offer; 3400 Euro (to be shared among the top 4 in the elite classes) is even a record in a Racketlon context, beating the present 3000 Euro record from Stockholm this January.

The draws were published a couple of days ago (see tournament homepage) and experienced Racketlon.com reporter Ray Jordan takes a closer look at them in his preview below. Results will be published on the internet as events unfold! Click here for direct access!

The annual Belgian Racketlon Open (known locally as the 'King of Rackets') takes place this coming weekend in the delightful Flemish town of Oudenaarde. The Belgian Open has earnt the reputation of being the best tournament on the tour and last year's World Championships easily surpassed anything that had ever taken place before.

Eliasson (Sweden), Reid (Scotland), Dickert (Austria). World No.1, No.2 and No.3.
photo: BMM, BMM and photing.com

This year's tournament has attracted a strong entry with the top 3 in the World present in the Men's draw and two of the top 3 in the ladies present. Magnus Eliasson will be the strong favourite to claim the title from the top seeded position despite losing out on his last two visits to Belgium. Potentially facing him in the semi-finals is FIR President Marcel Weigl, who could face a tricky test against Oliver Kudicke – possibly the man with the best badminton/tennis combination in Racketlon – if they both reach the quarter finals. The bottom half is a little more open, with Calum Reid seeded to reach the final, although there is the probability of a tough match in the semi-finals against either Michael Dickert or John O'Donnell, both could provide tough opposition. Home interest is provided with tournament director Gert Peersman, Geert Blomme, Adolphe Fernandez-Diez & Peter Duyck. All 4 have a good chance to reach the second round and in particular Gert has a chance to go further – did anyone witness the draw?!!!!!

There are also a few Eastern European men in the A draw and for a lot of players it will be the first time they have seen these talented newcomers – expect plenty of shocks!!

The women's draw is extremely open with any number of players being able to claim the title. Current world number 1 Susanna Lautala-Näykki is seeded at one, although there is the possibility of a clash against Silke Altmann at the semi-final stage, and the German won here two years ago. The bottom half of the draw could again provide some very interesting matches; Martina Kakasova is seeded at two, but in the mix is also Marielle Van der Woerdt, a very strong badminton player and winner of last year's English Open. Shona Kerr makes her 'European debut' having won more than once in Canada so her true ability will be tested, and Germans Seifert & Schulte will also want to have a say..

Both doubles events are very well supported with strong pairs; favourites in the men's will be Calum/Marcel but other dangerous pairs are Kopf/Zwiers, O'Donnell/Nordstrand & Twisterling/De Vries. In the mixed doubles Oliver kudicke & Silke Altmann will be strong favourites and it's hard to pick a pair that will be able to stop them.

The over 45 veterans will also throw up some interesting games with Jacob de Vries & Ray Simpson the main men in the top half of the draw – if they have to play it will be very interesting indeed. The bottom half looks even stronger, with Volker Sach, Richard Whitehouse & Peter Sakovics all looking to reach the final.

One thing is for certain, with plenty of activities planned, record prize money on offer and an excellent weather forecast, the 2007 Win For Life Belgian Open will be an excellent tournament and quite possibly the pick of this year's again. May the Leffes taste good all weekend...!!!