Dutch Open - A Closer Look at the Men's Elite Draw

The Dutch flavour of Racketlon

Racketlon.com has been given a preview of the draws for the Dutch Open to be held outside Eindhoven this weekend. They should be available in full on the tournament homepage ( www.racket4s.com ) within shortly. Meanwhile, here are some quick comments.

The Men's Elite draw contains a good international mix of 24 players from no less than 9 countries including Slovakia and France. Not surprisingly, perhaps, given the fact that this year's World Championships have been awarded to Germany the draw is, by the number, dominated by Germany (8 players) followed by Belgium (4), England (3) and home country Holland (also 3).

Racketlon.com will especially be watching two interesting comebacks in the shapes of Germany's Elmar Schaub and England's John O'Donnell. Both players have been remarkably invisible on the tour lately; Schaub's latest tour event was the World Champs in Holland last December and O'Donnell has not been seen since Austrian Open last November.

Here are the expected quarterfinals according to the seedings (based on the world rankings):

1) Alexander K÷pf (GER WR4) - Volker Sach (GER WR16)
2) Gert Peersman (BEL WR22) - Elmar Schaub (GER WR8)
3) John O'Donnell (ENG WR9) - Petr Vesely (CZE WR11)
4) Andrew Kim (GER WR22) - Peter Duyck (BEL WR7)

1) Watch the 15-year-old!
Born in 1993 Ken-Kristjan Toomj§e (Estonia) is, by a wide margin, the youngest participant in the draw. And probably the one with the highest rate of improvement, which makes him someone to start keeping an eye on - given the fact that he, last year already, managed to beat Toomas Vallikivi (Estonian Champion in 2006) in a local Estonian tournament.

If Toomj§e survives the first round (Slovakia's Svek Jurai) he will take on veteran Volker Sach in the second round, sporting an age difference of about 31 years.

2) Berkemeier-Peersman?
Achim Berkemeier has been showing very good form lately; In the King of Rackets tournament in Belgium last month he advanced all the way to the semifinals and lined up an impressive series of victories in all three rounds taking him there;
Berkemeier-Mika Hasmats (SWE) +6 (tt:15-21 ba:21-17 sq:16-21 te:21-8)
Berkemeier-Olli Zwiers (GER ) +29 (21-3, 21-5, 16-21, -)
Berkemeier-Petr Vesely (CZE) +5 (21-13, 21-16, 2-21, 21-10)
...and then in the semifinal:
Berkemeier-Peter Duyck (BEL) -16 (22-20, 14-21, 11-21, 6-7)

If Berkemeier manages to beat Dutch wild card Onno Quik in the first round he will face Peersman.

4) Second try for the new French player!
French newcomer Sebastien Planšon played his first tour event in Belgium last month and, given his results there, and also that he is so new to the sport which could mean very quick improvements, he could, in fact be a dark horse to win the whole tournament(!) In Belgium he clearly defeated Belgian top player Fernandez-Diez +14 and came quite close to shock the Racketlon world by pushing no one less than big favourite Douglas Struthers until the very end of their match starting with a 5 point lead before tennis. Results from Belgium:
Planšon-Fernandez-Diez +14 (4-21, 21-4, 21-11, 12-8)
Planšon-Struthers -6 (14-21, 21-17, 21-13, 10-21)

Winning the squash 21-13 against Struthers speaks loudly about his squash abilities, which is confirmed by his French ranking (~150). However, according to reports, his best sport is probably badminton (French ranking: ~40), so Struthers might, in fact, have got away a bit lucky in that sport. It has not happened often that Struthers has played a tight game against someone after having won the table tennis which is still considered his clear weakness.

Planšon will be facing Ray Jordan in the first round and if he survives that obstacle of size he will take on Kim in the second round.


References (Results page):
2008 Belgian Open (=King of Rackets)