05 May 2017

The 2017 ITTF Challenge Zagreb Open continues to provide plenty of drama with unexpected results cropping up throughout the separate competitions, and Friday 5th May produced many surprising talking points to discuss as the event in Croatia approaches its concluding stages of play.

by Simon Daish

Panagiotis Gionis is well known in the sport for his ability to control the ball no matter what spin is thrown in his direction, and the Greek competitor required a dogged performance to see off Germany’s Benedikt Duda in the Round of 16 of the Men’s Singles tournament.

In a match that featured plenty of twists and turns, seven games were needed to decide which player would progress from the tie and while Benedikt Duda put up a brave fight it was Panagiotis Gionis who emerged victorious (11-8, 12-10, 13-15, 7-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-8).

Awaiting Gionis in the quarter-finals is Denmark’s Jonathan Groth after the fifth seed defeated Wang Xi in straight games (11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8), while France’s Tristan Flore and India’s Harmeet Desai overcame higher seeded opponents Kou Lei (6-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6, 6-11, 11-3, 11-8) and Quentin Robinot (11-8, 10-12, 12-14, 11-9, 6-11, 11-4, 11-7) in their respective encounters.

Park Joohyun of Korea Republic has been one of the standout athletes in the Women’s Singles draw in Zagreb, but her time in the category has been brought to a halt following her quarter-finals exit to Austria’s Sofia Polcanova.

The unseeded player Park gave herself a decent chance of claiming another big scalp in the competition after she recovered from a 1-3 deficit to draw the match level at three games apiece, but a calm display in the deciding game from Polcanova saw the sixth seed prevail (4-11, 4-11, 11-4, 5-11, 16-14, 11-8, 5-11) and eliminate Park in the process.

There was an upset in the lower half of the draw as the no.7 seed Saki Shibata came out on top in her fixture against the no.4 seeded player Li Fen (11-9, 1-11, 12-10, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8), with Honoka Hashimoto and Suthasini Sawettabut completing the semi-finals lineup.

Both the Under 21 Women’s Singles and Under 21 Men’s Singles tournaments concluded on Day Two as Romania’s Adina Diaconu and Japan’s Koyo Kanamitsu received the first trophies on offer in Zagreb.

Adina Diaconu not only eliminated Puerto Rico’s Adriana Díaz in the last four but finished the competition with a powerful performance against Korea Republic’s Ji Eunchae in the final (11-8, 11-13, 11-6, 11-9), while the 24th seed Koyo Kanamitsu stunned the top seed Kirill Gerassimenko in the Under 21 Men’s Singles semi-finals before claiming a four games triumph over the fifth seed Tomas Polansky in the title deciding encounter (14-12, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8).

Challenge Series 2017 Zagreb (Croatia) Open Saki Shibata Jonathan Groth Adina Diaconu Sofia Polcanova Panagiotis Gionis Koyo Kanamitsu

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