Can Anyone Stop the Swedes?
The Draws for the second Czech Open are now available on www.czechracketlon.cz
. Read all about the preconditions in Keith Lesser's preview
The Charles Bridge in the center of Prague. Constructions started 1357.
Prague - A Picturesque City
Prague's wonderful sightseeing, restaurants, hotels & nightlife make it the most exciting city in Central Europe. 113 players have entered the singles events. This includes all the world number ones. A claim most tour events cannot make. The biggest doubles entry in racketlon history (with 34 pairs) sets up a mean event. This event has much significance. After The Czech Open, we have the Finnish Open and then the 2006 World Championships. Svatopluk Rejthar and his team have a splendid task to look forward to and a racketlon feast is set to grace Czech soil. Prague, with some excellent perquisites, should provide a good time to be had by all.
MAGNUS - Can anyone stop the most dominant force in Racketlon History?
Number one seed Magnus Eliasson comes into the 3rd tour event of the year with considerable confidence. After already dispatching Adamsson in Stockholm and Dickert in Pecs, some challengers have arrived to try and grab the headlines.
1. Calum Reid - World Junior Champion, the young Scottish starlet just gets better and better. Like a malt whiskey, full of flavour, Reid is waiting to erupt. You get the feeling once he starts winning, he won't stop. The squash improvement we have witnessed in the last 18 months is astonishing. Can he carry on this exponential improvement? The added impetus Reidimus takes into the competition is that this is his baby. Magnus, you want a bit of Prague? Nicknamed Reid's ally, he will not surrender his title easily. Expect shouting, expect aggression, Calum will fight all the way to defend his crown. The anniversary of the unthinkable 2005 - the youngest ever champion. His victory in the 2005 Czech Open, first over Schaub and then over Persson was exceptional. Reid v Eliasson, I am struggling to recall an encounter since the final of the Bulgarian Open 2004. Magnus may get an electric shock when he realises Reid is ready. His English Open exploits winning against Stefan Adamsson brought him title number two. Who would bet against title number three?
Defending Champion Calum Reid, Scotland.
The 2005 Czech Open was his first tour event victory.
(photo: www.digitalfoto.nu )
2. John O'Donnell - JOD, the English number one comes into the Czech Open hoping to make an impact on the 2006 World Tour and improve his ranking before the imminent World Championships. Who in the world can claim to have taken Magnus down in not one, not two, but three sports? The favourite to become the first ever British Champion only one week after his exploits in Prague do not count out the British behemoth. What is a Behemoth? An Encarta Dictionary presents a Behemoth to be "a huge beast referred to in the Bible, usually thought to be a hippopotamus" or "something that is enormously big or powerful". Seeded five he looks to meet Austrian tennis star Christoph Krenn in the quarter finals. O'Donnell should win with comfort before the tennis and go through to meet Eliasson or ..
3. Elmar Schaub - Elmar exploded on to the racketlon scene at last year's tournament with a stunning 1st round upset over JOD. The scale of this launch can only be paralleled to Oliver Kudicke's dispatch job over Rickard Persson in the German Open. Or even Ged Doherty (due to return at the 2006 British Championships) and Nick Macey's 1st round victory over Rickard Persson and Hans Mullamaa in the first ever racketlon doubles event in the British Open 2004. Schaub is a distinctive athlete, who specialises not only in racket sports, but is also an excellent footballer. With his table tennis and badminton skills, Elmar would surely also make an excellent five ball player (table tennis, badminton, football, basketball and volleyball). The story of the 2005 World Championships was Mikko Kärkkäinen's sensational spectacle in the final.
However, read on - an extract from the 2005 World Championship report, very relevant here:
"Interestingly enough, German Elmar Schaub played the closest game with Kärkkäinen over the weekend in the last 16. Mikko needed to reach 16 points to win in the tennis, having lost both the table tennis and badminton by narrow margins (and winning squash against novice Schaub), and at one stage he was 10-2 down, but he clawed it back to claim the match. The day before he had wiped the floor with Elmar +27 (11-6, 11-4, 11-1, 11-6) in the team event and perhaps thought it would be easier than it turned out." The top two Belgians Peter Duyck and especially Adolphe Diez-Fernandez impressed in the main draw, with the latter losing in a tight encounter against Mathias Fagerström, whose steady tennis won through in the end. John O'Donnell's lack of fitness showed in an easy defeat to Richard Thomson - the first year that JOD hasn't reached the last eight of a World Championships."
- Schaub was only narrowly behind Mikko -6 and was 10-2 up in the tennis against the world champion. He is a very, very dangerous player.
4. Joachim Nilsson - Schaub knocked out Nilsson in round one in Vienna, another tough player. The teddy bear has some great results taking out Mats Källberg at Västerås last August and O'Donnell in London last October. Can he trouble Reid in the quarter finals?
Strong Austrian Presence
With a nucleus of tournaments in Central and Western Europe in recent months, it is no surprise to see Dickert, Weigl and Krenn all climbing the rankings. Dickert has been solid, but not yet truly astounded since his upset against O'Donnell in Edinburgh at the 2005 Scottish Open (ed's note: Dickert - O'Donnell +2 (tt:21-8, ba:18-21, sq:4-21, te:21-12)). Krenn defeated Källberg in Vienna and lost to King Magno in Pecs. While bowing out to the Magnostic element he obtained a remarkable 13 points at squash, a total far stronger players would grab at.
Druve, Jansson - Boom!
You would not bet against Druve and Jansson dominating both the Ladies Open and the Mixed doubles with their respective partners Nilsson and Porsborn. Jansson has to try and get Druve on the tennis court. This will be tough! Linda could move up to number three in the world, which would be her highest ranking to date. Rita Horvath comes fresh from Pecs looking for title number two. Experienced rackathlete - German player Irene Seifert is the other puncture to an all Swedish Ladies final.
Bredberg Returns to Prague
While not often venturing abroad, Bredberg returns to Prague to defend his title. Can anyone stop him? A player who has shown some recent domination of Veteran's events played one of the best tennis backhand shots ever witnessed (against Richard Whitehouse in Vienna). Bredberg is a winner and a superlative allrounder. But where is his dear friend Ken Bound? Ken debuted in Prague last year and this is a great testimony to any tournament and any player. Ken describes Ulf "A research chemist and not carrying an ounce of fat. Yes he had the brains and the body but not the looks." " not before I saw my new friend Ulf deservedly win the tournament. Solid in all events and fit as a flea. He was a worthy Champion." - Read more about last year's Czech Open at - http://www.hertfordsquash.com/racketlon.htm - One of the best racketlon reports I have ever seen. Nearly as good as this one - http://www.blogger.com/email-post.g?blogID=8245472&postID=110073191875856876 . Funny what you find searching racketlon on google!
I digress, the Czech Open. Norton comes back after last competing in London. The colourful squash and badminton specialist could certainly give Ulf a wee bit of trouble. Appleton won in Hungary and Canada. Greatorex is as fit as a fiddle. England v Sweden Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
England vs. Sweden. David Greatorex, England and Ulf Bredberg, Sweden. Runner-up and Winner of the 2005 IRF Racketlon Veterans World Tour Race.
(photo: www.digitalfoto.nu )
Anyone for Tennis?
Check out the doubles draw. Probably the most interesting match is likely to be Foulds/JOD v Weigl/Reid. Calum and Marcel, favourites for the event after their victory at last year's English Open may have trouble here. Score Predictor: Foulds/JOD to win by +1 (21-17, 18-21, 21-9, 9-21). This assertion may surprise you? How can the much lower ranked combo of Foulds and JOD give so much trouble to Marcel and Calum? Profiles make racketlon so beautiful. Weigl is the weakest table tennis player with the other three of a reasonably similar ability (Calum perhaps the strongest, but not by a lot). Badminton? Foulds is the worst, JOD the best, therefore tight but give the victory to the Scottish/Austrian pair. Squash - Foulds and JOD both their best sports, easy victory. This leaves a relatively short tennis target. We will see, but expect a close one here and look out for the tennis, no doubt likely to be a nervy affair in true racketlon styleeeeeeeeee. Maybe, Hamish McShanks will further outline in a new blog the true gummi effect "A Swedish word which translates as 'rubber arm' i.e. lots of tension and your losing control because of the pressure, hence the rubbery arm, or sphincter as the case may be".
NB - The world of racketlon may also be interested to know the upcoming British Championships has 70+ entries and sees the return of 2002 English Open Organiser Michael Auchterlonie. Full preview to follow.
/KL (keith.lesser @ racketlon.com)