Judo is back and with the IJF Masters in Doha the world’s top athletes will be finally in the mood for some smashing. JudoInside and JudoCrazy analysed the top favourites which will give you a guide to watch out for.
-60kg Mshvidobadze strong without Japanese
Current European Champion Robert Mshvidobadze (RUS) is the top ranked player and the one to beat. His main rivals are compatriot Yago Abuladze whom he beat in last year’s European Championships but whom he lost to in the final of last year’s Hungary Grand Slam. Other players he’s recently lost to who will be in Doha are Sharafuddin Lutfillaev (UZB), Yeldos Smetov (KAZ), Diyorbek Urozboev (UZB), Yang Yung Wei (TPE), Ryuju Nagayama (JPN) and Amartuvshin Dashdavaa (MGL). So, he won’t have it easy. The current world champion is Lukhumi Chkhvimiani (GEO) but he has a 0-4 track record against Mshvidobadze so he isn’t really considered a dangerous rival.
-66kg Lombardo on repeat
The top seed here is Manuel Lombardo (ITA). He was recently beaten by Orkhan Safarov in last year’s European Championships but he had beaten Safarov in the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, so a rematch could go either way. Another player who could prove to be trouble for him is Denis Vieru (MDA) who has beaten him twice. Other top prospects worth watching in this category are Baruch Shmailov (ISR) and Yakub Shamilov (RUS), both of whom have beaten him before. Three exciting players he hasn’t fought in an IJF World Tour event before are Tal Flicker (ISR), Nijat Shikalizada (AZE) and Georgii Zantaraia (UKR). An Ba-ul (KOR) is a threat though Lombardo has beaten him twice.
-73kg Hashimoto still favourite
The top seed here is Soichi Hashimoto (JPN). Although not as dominant and feared as Shohei Ono, he has a pretty good track record against international players. Contestants he has lost to in the past are Musa Mogushkov (RUS), Tommy Macias (SWE), Arthur Margelidon (CAN) and An Changrim (KOR). Exciting players who might be dark horses are Akil Gjakova (KOS), Lasha Shavdatuashvili (GEO) and Fabio Basile (ITA).
-81kg open accounts
The top seed may be Matthias Casse (BEL) but the match that everyone wants to see is Sagi Muki (ISR) vs Saeid Mollaei (formerly IRI but now representing MGL). Will it happen? We’ll see. But Casse vs Muki rematch from the 2019 World’s will be exciting too. Muki will have the upper hand. They’ve fought eight times and Casse has only won twice (once by default). Other players who could give Casse some trouble are Mollaei, Luka Maisuradze (GEO), Aslan Lappinagov (RUS) and Frank De Wit (NED) — all of whom have beaten him before.
-90kg Igolnikov is hot
The top seed is Cuba’s Ivan Felipe Silva Morales but the reigning World Champion is Noël Van ‘t End (NED). The Dutchman hasn’t been so convincing in international competitions lately though, having failed to medal in his last five international competitions. The field is wide open though with many top contenders including Nemanja Majdov (SRB), Krisztian Toth (HUN), Mihael Zgank (TUR), European Champion Mikhail Igolnikov (RUS) who is on form, Gwak Donghan (KOR) and the always exciting Beka Gviniashvili (GEO). You also can’t discount the Japanese, Shoichiro Mukai, still the world silver medallist.
-100kg Peter Paltchik on a high
Top seed Peter Paltchik of Israel is on a high, having won some major titles last year, including the European Championships and Paris Grand Slam. But the -100kg division is one of the toughest. Michael Korrel (NED), Varlam Liparteliani (GEO), Shady El Nahas (CAN) and Niyaz Ilyasov (RUS) and Arman Adamian (RUS) have all beaten him before. Two other players who could give him trouble are the former World Champion Cho Guham (KOR) and the reigning World Champion Jorge Fonseca (POR).
+100kg Riner the man to watch for
The most watched player here will be Teddy Riner of France although he is ranked outside the Top 20 due to his low participation in international competitions. He’s still the top favorite though. The man who beat him in his last competition (the 2019 Paris Grand Slam), Kokoro Kageura (JPN) is not competing. Instead, representing Japan will be Hisayoshi Harasawa, who has lost to him twice but gave him a tough fight both times. Fans will want to see him go up against Guram Tushishvili and Levani Matiashvili, both of Georgia, who have given Riner a real run for his money in the past. Matches against either of the two Russians, Inal Tasoev and Tamerlan Bashaev, the two Dutchmen, Roy Meyer and Henk Grol, and Or Sasson of Israel, would all be exciting too.