Convincing Victories for Druve and
Kärkkäinen in Lahti.
Johan Porsborn reports below from the 2005 Finnish Open, a
tournament that attracted 82 players from 4 different countries.
The Finnish Open is arguably one of the toughest tournaments
to win on the racketlon tour. The Finns seem to produce an
endless number of high quality players, which may be the reason
why this well organized tournament only attracted players from
Finland, Sweden, Great Britain and Austria.
Kärkkäinen once again
Who will ever be able to stop Mikko Kärkkäinen from winning on his home soil? This was his fourth Finnish Open victory in a row and it is certainly not due to easy draws; On each of the three last years world no. 1 Magnus Eliasson was among the competitors and on each occasion he has been defeated by the native. This time the talented Finn got his first real test in the semifinals against another "racketlon youngster", Stefan Adamsson, from Stockholm. The strong Swede is one of very few who have beaten Magnus Eliasson and on the right day he can defeat anyone on the tour as he indeed confirmed at his only previous encounter with Kärkkäinen (in Gothenburg World Open 2003) where he caused an upset by knocking him out already in the quarter finals by +11 (tt 17-21, sq 21-7, ba 21-13, te 14-21).
This time Adamsson got a fairly alarming start in table tennis as he lost 12 straight points taking Kärkkäinen from 2-3 to 14-3. But the Finn was not able to keep that flow and started to make errors; Adamsson was able to recover and got 16 points in the end, which was comparable to the opening of their previous encounter. But he lost the badminton by 21-14 which made him 12 points behind before squash, where he took a commanding lead by winning eleven of the first twelve points. Kärkkäinen seemed out of balance, but after a change of shirt and tactics he took back the initiative. Kärkkäinen played far more aggressively after the break and grabbed thirteen points as he virtually decided the whole match. The end results: Kärkkäinen-Adamsson +15 (tt 21-16, ba 21-14, sq 13-21, te 18-7).
The Finnish number one faced the Swedish veteran, Rickard Persson, in the final. "The giant from Örebro" impressed many in the semifinals against the new Finnish star, Pekka Kainulainen (who beat world number 10, Marcel Weigl, in the quarters). Persson won the table tennis by 21-0 after some fantastic defensive play. Kainulainen was then a beaten man and the fact that he suffered from fatigue did not help him at all.
Persson is maybe the most consistent racketlon player in the world and the friendly journalist has not missed a semifinal since the last Finnish Open. He is however still waiting for the second title of his career (to complement his British Open victory in 2003) and it became clear fairly early in the final that Kärkkäinen was not willing to help Persson to get it in Lahti (although Persson did look like a winner when he picked up seven straight points in table tennis from 13-18 to 20-18. Nevertheless, Kärkkäinen recovered, won the table tennis by 21-20 and the badminton by 21-10(!) as Persson was unable to handle the "drumstick" badminton of the fast moving home boy. In the squash event, Persson broke the strings of both of his remaining rackets in very symbolic moments of Swedish defeat and Finnish triumph. Kärkkäinen-Persson +35 (21-20, 21-10, 21-8, 21-11).
First titles in Finland for Druve
Lilian Druve might be the most outstanding racketlon player ever. The 42 year-old Gothenburg citizen had however never contested in the Finnish Open, but was able to bring two gold medals back on the boat to Sweden. Druve produced a perfect 8-0 match record and won all events but a single game of tennis in the whole singles competition.
In the semifinals Druve easily defeated Natalie Lawrence from Great Britain. Lawrence is a good squash player and will be a threat to many in the future. The final was a repeat of the Swedish Open in January between Druve and Susanna Lautala-Näykki. Lautala-Näykki won her semifinal against compatriot Hanna Miestamo, who made a very welcome come-back after one year of absence from competition.
The world number one proved to be too strong for Lautala-Näykki in the final and only gave her hard hitting opponent three points in the badminton. Druve is a former world # 33 in badminton and is stronger than most competitors in the Men´s Elite in her favourite discipline. Although her margin of victory was as safe as 32 points and although she did won all four desciplines it should be noted that three of the disciplines were quite even. Druve - Lautala-Näykki +32 (21-19,21-3,21-15,21-15)
Druve also showed no mercy against her male opponents when she won the Amateur Team Competition on Friday together with the author of this article. In addition to her unquestionable badminton superiority she has also developed her tennis skills over the last couple of months and she won all of her tennis matches in the Team Competion. On the same day, Kärkkäinen was victorious in the Elite Team competition. Hence, there is no doubt that Druve was the queen and Kärkkäinen the king of the prestigeous Finnish Open!
The results in summary from the Elite events:
Mikko Kärkkäinen (Fin)-Mika Hasmats (Swe) W.O.
Stefan Adamsson (Swe) + Sami Lithenius (Fin) +34 (tt 21-3,ba 21-16,sq 21-10,te -)
Pekka Kainulainen (Fin)-Marcel Weigl (Aus) +4 (11-21,21-15,21-13,18-18)
Richard Persson (Swe)- Hans Mullamaa (Swe) +21 (21-8,17-21,21-9,1-1)
Mikko Kärkkäinen - Stefan Adamsson +15 (21-16,21-14,13-21,18-7)
Richard Persson-Pekka Kainulainen +33 (21-0,21-18,21-12, - )
Stefan Adamsson - Pekka Kainulainen +23 (21-17,21-6,21-17, - )
Mikko Kärkkäinen-Richard Persson +35 (21-20,21-10,21-8,21-11)
Lilian Druve (Swe) - Natalie Lawrence (GBR) +35 (21-5,21-5,21-18, - )
Susanna Lautala-Näykki (Fin)-Hanna Miestamo (Fin) +10 (21-9,21-7,3-21,21-19)
Hanna Miestamo - Natalie Lawrence +28 (21-11,21-19,21-5, - )
Lilian Druve - Susanna Lautala-Näykki +32 (21-19,21-3,21-15,21-15)
For complementary reports from the Finnish Open, in both the German and the English languages, see the homepage of Racketlon Federation Austria at www.racketlon.at .