Ratzer King of the Danes, Champion of the World!
Jesper Ratzer won the all Danish Elite Men’s final at the 2014 Racketlon World Championships with a 12-21, 21-15, 21-11, 15-17 victory over compatriot Kasper Jonsson. The final which twisted and turned gripped several hundred spectators at the Surrey Sports Park.
One characteristic of the final was the cagey nature of the early points, with neither player every really breaking free of the other. In the table tennis, Jonsson showed supreme skill with some passing winners that were just sublime, leaving the Ratzer the world number 1 playing at thin air, left only to nod his approval of the skills of the shot. That said, Ratzer was not going to roll over, and using the full depth of the arena he defended and defended, looking for any chink in the armour to attack. Jonsson battled and transferred the change of ends score from 11-7 into a win of 21-12, a margin catching some by surprise.
The badminton though was always going to be epic battle, both players strong badminton players and well experienced in each others style of play. The crowd hoped for a classic and they got one. The standard was exceptional, the margins wafer thin, Jonsson clipping a few net tapes, Ratzer hitting the lines. Every smash Ratzer hit, Jonsson seemingly had a return, diving this way and that. The pace was brutal, the court coverage extensive, superlatives don’t describe it well enough, but throughout this display, played with passion and determination combined with upmost skill, there was a mutual respect between these two old foes. 11-9 at the change of ends to Ratzer, but could he kick on as Jonsson did in the table tennis? Indeed he could, 11-9 became 19-12, a massive win on the cards and level into squash. Clearly Jonsson hadn’t read that script and 3 great winners got him to 20-15 before Ratzer belatedly sealed the victory. Three points lost by Ratzer, he was behind into squash, but he knows he shouldn’t have been.
Yet again, another cagey opening, the points shared and 2-2 become 4-4, before Ratzer, showing supreme ability to fetch balls out the back corners started to open up a small gap. 11-7 at the change, which so far in this final had been crucial, could that change over leader kick on again? Ratzer did and the harder Jonsson tried to put him away the more his Danish countryman struck back, a few tinned drops from Jonsson made it 15-8, before Jonsson once again struck back, 15-10, was he going to narrow the lead some more? Ratzer made it 19-11, before another Jonsson charge, the man never giving up on a point, Ratzer took the squash 21-15, he would need his tennis racket for the first time this week, he would also need 15 to defend his world title.
Ratzer got the perfect start, two aces his opponent was no where near, but Jonsson wouldn’t know where to find surrender in the dictionary, and he struck back, making it two all. Back and forth this tie twisted and turned, Ratzer sticking tight to his opponent, not letting him get the lead he needed. Could Jonsson force it? Seemingly not and at 11-8 to Ratzer at the turn, the crowd expected a procession to the title. But maybe nerves got into Ratzer’s mind, Jonsson made it 11-11, when Ratzer missed a serve and volley, a Ratzer doube fault and it was 13-11, this soon became 16-12 and Jonsson could the winning tape. 17-12 and it was incredibly tight, who would take it? Perhaps it was now where being the reigning champion helps. Ratzer winning a stunning rally drawing Jonsson to the net to pass him down the backhand line. Match point to Ratzer and when Jonsson pushed a chip long, the world number 1 was world champion again. The two came together at the net, exchanging a hug of mutual respect and the acknowledgement of a tremendous final.
As an advert for Racketlon this match was nothing finer, truly stunning play in all four sports,. Jesper Ratzer the victor, but what a match, congratulations to Kasper Jonsson on his part in this belting match.
Meanwhile, Stefan Adamsson took third place seeing off Michi Dickert to complete Scandinavian domination of the Elite Men’s division.