A Closer Look at the Finnish Open Draws
Expectations are building up for the next Racketlon world tour event, the Finnish Open next weekend. The draws published earlier today on the tournament homepage, must be one of the toughest ever seen outside a world championship. Particularly, the top quarter with Eliasson(Kemppinen/Helle and the third quarter with Kärkkäinen/Persson/Kainulainen are looking exceedingly strong.
Observations from quarter 1:
*) World No.1 Magnus Eliasson (who is in questionable shape given his uncharacteristically unstable(!) performance at the Swedish Champs last week, where he was knocked out by the magic touch of Källberg in the semi-finals) will face the 2001 World Championship runner-up Toni Kemppinen in the first round already(!) Kemppinen, who is one of very few people, that have ever beaten Mikko Kärkkäinen (it happened in the 2001 Finnish Champs) has rarely been seen on the world tour for a very long time but is known to have played a lot of squash on top national level, which should make him an extremely strong badminton/squash profile. The squash against Eliasson should be interesting - and key to the end result.
*) If Eliasson advances to the second (quarterfinal) round he should face another World Championship runner-up (from 2004 in Vienna) in countryman Roland Helle, who won the Swedish Championships last week and seemed to be in better shape than ever. The Swedish world no.1 against the Swedish Champion.
Observations from quarter 3:
*) Sweden's Rickard Persson (an almost permanent resident among the world top 10 since international Racketlon began in 2001) will face Finland's no.2 Pekka Kainulainen in the first round. They met last in the 2006 World Champs in Oudenaarde, where Kainulainen upset the seedings by a +8 victory; (tt:5-21 ba:21-11 sq:21-16 te: 21-12). This made him the winner of the group and he went on to beat Marcel Weigl (presently world no.5) by 36(!) points (tt:21-10 ba:21-9 sq:21-8 te:-) - impressive figures, especially since his tennis is among the best on the tour.
*) The winner of Persson/Kainulainen should face Mikko Kärkkäinen, the winner of the two last world champs, 2005 and 2006, in the second round... Kärkkäinen, who has not played on the world tour at all since he won the world championship in June last year has consequently slid down to position 7 on the world ranking but, since this is a normal thing with him, noone doubts that he should be able to give even the world no.1 a good fight should they face each other in the final.
Predicted quarterfinals according to the world ranking:
Magnus Eliasson (SWE WR1) - Roland Helle (SWE WR18)
Henrik Håkansson (SWE WR17) - John O'Donnell (ENG WR8)
Mikko Kärkkäinen (FIN WR7) - Rickard Persson (SWE WR11)
Jonathan Foulds (ENG WR50) - Elmar Schaub (GER WR6)
Similarly to the Men's class the ladies' will contain some top level games featuring both of the world's top ranked ladies at present; Lautala-Näykki (1) and Jansson (2). The top half of the draw looks especially strong. In fact, it is filled with nothing but Racketlon celebrities;
*) Estonian Champion (from December last year) Külli Iste will meet Finland's number 3 Katja Turtiainen in the first round. The winner of the two takes on World No.1 Lautala-Näykki in the quarter finals - and the winner there will in turn probably face the runner-up from the last World Championship, Hanna Rusila (formerly Miestamo). But England's Natalie Lawrence (who impressed everyone by beating Lilian Druve in the Swedish Open last January after which she lost a tight game against Lautala-Näykki in the semifinals; -5 (11-21, 14-21, 21-5, 17-21) might have other plans...
Predicted semifinals according to the world ranking:
Susanna Lautala-Näykki (FIN WR1) - Hanna Rusila (FIN WR12)
Jutta Schaub (GER WR7) - Linda Jansson (SWE WR2)