A Clean Sweep for Finland!
Date: 2004-05-17

The Finnish players achieved a true Grand Slam when Finnish Open ended in Lahti yesterday. It brought back memories from the dusk of international racketlon (see report from the 2001 World Championships in Gothenburg). Only this time the sweep was even cleaner; There were home victories in all(!) classes, the most cheered one, of course Mikko Kärkkäinen's in the Men's Elite. He ended a long run of tournament wins for World Champion Magnus Eliasson after beating him in the semifinal.
Kärkkäinen has in fact never lost to Eliasson and they have now played each other no less than five times. During the last year Eliasson has seemed unbeatable, winning 7 consecutive tour events. After yesterday's crushing defeat, the question that hangs in the air is rather: "Will he beat Kärkkäinen - ever?"

Eliasson got a chocking start in the semifinal when he only got 4 points in table tennis. Mikko then achieved a decent 10 points at squash and won the badminton by a margin of 9 points an marched on with great confidence towards a 6-1 lead in tennis, implying no less than 20 match points. At that stage, remarkably albeit characteristically, Eliasson did not give up and won seven straight points to 7-6. But his recovery came too late and the match was over at 7-7!

Kärkkäinen bt Eliasson +15!
(Tt: 21-4, Sq: 10-21, Ba: 21-12, Te: 7-7!)

In the final Kärkkäinen beat Swede Roland Helle (actually born in Finland) by 69-53. Helle got a good start, 4 points up after two disciplines, but ruined it all in badminton.
Hopefully, Kärkkäinen will now take part in some tournaments abroad.
"I maybe come to Belgium" he said and that would be good news for the organizers of the D´Hont Open the first weekend in June.
At the same time as the final a devastated Magnus Eliasson played the 3rd prize game against Stefan Larsson. The start of the badminton set was watched by one (1) spectator, which must be a very unusual experience for Eliasson, whose matches are normally followed by large crowds.

The Ladies' event attracted several international stars such as Hanna Miestamo (Fin), Katy Buchanan (Scot), Silke Altmann (Ger), Irene Seifert (Ger), Susanna Lautala-Näykki (Fin) and Katja Turtiainen (Fin).
Hanna won the final against Buchanan in comfortable style and looks now to be a threat against World Champion Lilian Druve in the coming tournaments. Silke Altmann, a good all-round player from Germany, won the 3rd prize.

In the veterans final, Englishman Stuart Foster, made a stunning start against huge favourite Harri Peltola. He led by 21 points after tennis and squash (the order of play was made after tossing in all classes except for Mens Elite), but in the end he lost to Peltola.

The most famous player in Lahti was former icehockey professional Erkki Laine, who played two Olympic Games for Finland in the 80s. But in this tournament he did not get to the play-offs.

The Men's Class 1 was tight with many candidates for the title. In the end Antti Jääskelainen was the winner after beating German badminton expert Kristian Aschenbach in the final making for a Finnish victory in this class too - as in all the other classes...

For complete results from the Finnish Open see this page.