by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Furthermore, not only did Panagiotis Gionis claim the top prize, he won his first title at either an ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series tournament; only once previously in any discipline had he appeared in a final.
At the 2004 ITTF World Tour Polish Open, partnering Austria’s Chen Weixing, the duo had finished in runners up spot and, as on the 2017 Legends Tour, Germany had ended hopes. They lost to the combination of Timo Boll and Christian Süss.
“This tournament is very important for me, because it’s my first such victory. I was very stable from the start, not just in a final match but during all this week in Croatia. It was not so easy for me because I was playing for the first time with the new balls. I’m very happy now; I hope that the spectators also enjoyed the final. See you next year again in Zagreb”. Panagiotis Gionis
A first for Panagiotis Gionis and a second for Greece; he becomes only the second player representing the south eastern European country to win an ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series Men’s Singles title.
The other player to achieve the feat is Kalinikos Kreanga. He has appeared in five such finals, winning in 2002 in Japan before succeeding two years later in Chile and Russia; he was the runner up in 1999 in Australia and in 2005 when also he competed Russia.
Additionally, Panagiotis Gionis now joins another group of legends; he becomes the fifth predominantly defensive player to win an ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series Men’s Singles title.
Furthermore, considering players of that style, solid defence combined with a powerful forehand top spin, he is the only European; the others are all from the continent of Asia.
China’s Ding Song won in Japan in 1996 and the following year in Australia, compatriot Hou Yingchao succeeded in Russia in 2006. Meanwhile, in 2013 Japan’s Masato Shiono won on home soil in Yokohama and later in the year in the Czech Republic.
Also, Korea’s Joo Saeyhuk succeeded on home turf when he prevailed in Jeonju in 2006 before winning for a second time; most pertinently in 2013 he won in Zagreb.
Now once again in the Croatian capital city, success for a player who extols the defensive art, success for Panagiotis Gionis of Greece; good job for him that Jörg Rosskopf didn’t play!