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2018-06-23 10:00:00 CET

Marco plays the waiting game

Injury is threatening to derail Swiss hopes of glory in Gstaad

Marco Krattiger celebrates after a winning a point at last year's Gstaad MajorMarco Krattiger celebrates after a winning a point at last year's Gstaad Major

Marco Krattiger is talking with a smile on his face which, given his situation, is admirable. But then again, when you’re talking about Gstaad, smiling comes pretty easy.

Yet the 23-year-old Swiss blocker has a reason to be restless, anxious. He has a fight on his hands. A race against the clock to return to fitness. Last week he tore his sartorious muscle in his thigh.

Im Aufwärts-Trend zurückgeworfen! In der vergangenen Woche habe ich mir einen Muskelfaserriss am Oberschenkel zugezogen. Eine Diagnose die mich wie ein Schlag ins Gesicht traf. Verletzungen gehören leider zum Sport und zum Leben. Ich sehe diese Situation jetzt wie einen Neustart. Die Vergangenheit kann ich nicht ändern und fokussiere mich deshalb auf das, was vor mir liegt. Zurzeit sind das vor allem tägliche Physiotermine, Videoanalyse und Mentaltraining. So gebe ich jeden Tag mein Bestes und investiere alles um hoffentlich in Gstaad starten zu können. Schlussendlich wird mein Körper der „Tätschmeister" sein und mir sagen, wann ich wieder voll angreifen kann. Bis dahin steht die vollständige Genesung meines Oberschenkels an erster Stelle. Vielen Dank allen, die an uns glauben und uns auf irgendeine Weise unterstützen! Let's do this! Marco

230 Likes, 8 Comments - Beeler-Krattiger (@beelerkrattiger) on Instagram: "Im Aufwärts-Trend zurückgeworfen! In der vergangenen Woche habe ich mir einen Muskelfaserriss am..."

 

The damage threatens to scupper Marco and his teammate Nico Beeler’s chances of appearing at the one tournament they focus their body and mind for every summer: the Swatch Major Gstaad.

Their home tournament, it’s the summer sporting event of the year that Marco’s friends and family make a four-hour pilgrimage from Amriswil, in the north of Switzerland close to the German border, every year. If you’re Swiss, this is the one competition you do not miss.

“It’s the main goal of all teams from Switzerland to play in Gstaad every season,” says Marco, who teamed up with Beeler at the start of the 2017 season. “It would be really, really sad if I don’t make it.”

The blocker, due to celebrate his 24th birthday three days before the start of the tournament on July 10, is doing everything in his power to ensure he makes it. Together with Nico, the pair are already guaranteed a spot in the 32-team main draw. To say he’d be devastated if he missed out would be an understatement.

“It would be the perfect comeback to make it,” continues Krattiger. “We’re working hard to ensure I can. I see the physio every day but at the moment there is no prognosis. We’re doing everything we can to make it.”

The unfortunate timing of Marco’s injury isn’t just a shame because Gstaad is a tournament close to their hearts. No, the troublesome thigh problem has also halted the teams’ escalating progress on the sand. Only last month they finished fifth in the four-star event in Itampema, Brazil – their best result on the World Tour in a year.

“It’s one of the worst moments, to have an injury like this, right now,” says Krattiger. “We felt we were playing really well, we’d had a good tournament in Brazil and finished in the quarterfinals. We’d made a change in Lucerne, changing sides – I’m now playing on the left – and we felt really confident and could feel that improvement.”

Marco (left) and teammate Nico Beeler wait to receive at last year's Major in the MountainsMarco (left) and teammate Nico Beeler wait to receive at last year's Major in the Mountains

This year’s Gstaad tournament will be the fourth as a Major. It will also be the 19th time the town 1,050 meters high in the Alps has held a men’s event. Twelve months ago, Marco and Nico finished ninth and ran reigning Olympic champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt close in the pool play. The pair beat Mexican Olympians Virgen/Ontiveros but then succumbed to eventual silver medalists, Piotr Kantor and Bartotz Losiak of Poland, in the round of 16. They will want to improve that this year.

“We came into last year’s tournament off the back of two defeats in qualification,” explains Marco. “We had already finished fourth in The Hague so it was a bit of a rollercoaster and our aim, like it is now, is to becoming more consistent. This year there’s been a lot of tough losses but in every game I felt we’ve had chances to win.”

Should Marco and Nico take their place on the sand at the iconic Gstaadium, you can be sure the duo will be welcomed with open arms by the staff and volunteers at the World Tour’s most picturesque and friendly stop.

“There are many reasons why Gstaad is so popular with the players, but the main reason is the real family atmosphere,” says Marco. “It’s like a small village, everybody knows each other, the volunteers and staff say ‘hi’ and talk to you on first name terms, even the staff in the supermarket recognize you and ask you how you’re doing.

“Of course the location is amazing too and the cowbells… well for me winning one of those and standing on the podium and hearing the Swiss national anthem would be a dream.”

In three weeks’ time, the Swatch Major Gstaad will reach its climax. And if you hear the sound of the Swiss national anthem and see the red flag and white cross hoisted highest, you can be sure that Marco will have the biggest smile in Switzerland – and you will know what he’s had to overcome to get it.

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