A Closer Look at the Finnish Open Draw
The Men's Elite draw (available through this link) of the Finnish Open coming up this weekend contains a tasty mixture of players commonly recognised as world class; Beside the two obvious ones (Eliasson and Kärkkäinen) there are also names like:
Antti Tyyskä (FIN)
- the winner of the U21 World Championships in Rotterdam half a year ago, where he e.g beat top ranked Taavi Himmist by devastating figures in the semifinal. +52 before tennis!;
Tyyskä-Himmist +52 (tt:21-4 ba:21-5 sq:21-2 te:-)
(Himmist then went straight on to win the match for third prize against Germany's quality player Paul Sach +8 (9-21, 19-21, 21-13, 21-7) )
Pekka Kainulainen (FIN)
- a rare participant at international events, but a quarterfinalist of the 2006 World Championships where he e.g. beat Marcel Weigl (present WR3) by +36 before tennis (which btw is his favourite discipline);
Kainulainen-Weigl +36 (21-10, 21-9, 21-8, -)
Or from the group stage earlier of the same championship:
Kainulaninen-Rickard Persson +8 (5-21, 21-11, 21-16, 21-12)
Mats Källberg (SWE)
- often mentioned (together with Horatio Pintea) as a contender for the title "best table tennis player on the tour". Given his ability to keep capable opponents on very low figures in tt (combined, of course, with good all-round capacity) he can sometimes achieve major setups. Like in the Swedish Champs last year when he shocked the Racketlon community by knocking out favourite Eliasson in the semifinal. He actually came very close to achieving the same thing at this year's Swedish Champs only a few weeks ago. These were his figures against Eliasson in this year's quarterfinal:
Källberg-Eliasson -5 (21-2, 7-21, 9-21, 17-15)
Another result from the 2006 World Champs speaks the same language:
Källberg-Struthers +6 (21-6, 21-18, 6-21 19-16)
And how about (from the 2002 World Champs in Gothenburg):
Källberg-Kärkkäinen +28 (tt:21-6 sq:21-12 ba:19-15 te:-) (Note the sport order. This was before the 2005 rules change, which put badminton before squash.)
Peter Duyck (BEL)
- the recent runner-up of the King of Rackets tournament in Belgium (see report), who also showed good progress at the last Worlds, where he reached the quarterfinal.
Stefan Adamsson (SWE)
- one of only three people in the world, who has been number one on the world ranking. He was the runner-up of the Swedish Champs a few weeks ago and another recent sign of his capacity came at the 2007 Worlds (in a plate match for losing quarterfinalists);
Adamsson-Duyck +19 (8-21, 21-8, 21-2, 3-3)
Or how about (from the quarterfinal of the 2003 World Champs in Gothenburg):
Adamsson-Kärkkäinen +11 (tt:17-21 sq:21-7 ba:21-13 te:14-21)
These are the expected quarterfinals according to the seedings/world rankings:
1) Magnus Eliasson (SWE WR1) - Anders Rickan (SWE WR35)
2) Andrew Kim (GER WR22) - Gert Peersman (BEL WR16)
3) Mikko Kärkkäinen (FIN WR17) - Peter Duyck (BEL WR20)
4) Stefan Adamsson (SWE WR23) - Volker Sach (GER WR15)
1) U21 World Champion Antti Tyyskä will be put to a very interesting test against Sweden's well established elite player Anders Rickan in the first round. How good is the youngster? (This should be his first(?) participation in the Men's Elite class of a World Tour Event.)
2) Peersman will face Kainulainen in the first round. Not the best profile for Peersman considering that tt is probably Kainulainen's weakest discipline (cf Kainulainen's figures against Persson above).
3) The most interesting match of the first round should arguably be Kärkkäinen-Källberg.
As already cited above the figures from their latest(?) and only(?) encounter
Källberg-Kärkkäinen +28 (tt:21-6 sq:21-12 ba:19-15 te:-)
But that was almost six years ago and since then there have been remarkable improvements taking place to Kärkkäinen's squash and, albeit probably to a lesser extent, to his badminton.
4) Who is Ismo Rönkkö? - a Finnish player without a world ranking that has been given a wildcard and is facing Sach in the first round. More Finish talent to be revealed to the rest of the world, perhaps?
Stay tuned to the Finnish Open results page. Based on previous experience of the very capable Finnish organisation team frequent updates are expected throughout the weekend.
The Racketlon world is holding its breath in anticipation of a re-match between giants Eliasson and Kärkkäinen. But first Kärkkäinen will have to beat Källberg... And Adamsson...
References (Results pages):
2002 World Champs, Gothenburg
2003 World Champs, Gothenburg
2006 World Champs, Oudenaarde
2007 World Champs, Rotterdam