by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The 20 year old who is very much in the transition stage moving from promising junior to established senior international exceeded expectations.
Safely through to the third round the previous day with hard fought seven games wins over the Japanese duo of Yuki Hirano (12-14, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 9-11, 11-5) and Shunsuke Togami (11-7, 11-13, 13-11, 7-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-7); Can Akkuzu continued his run of good form on the penultimate day of action.
Furthermore, for the third time he became embroiled in a seven games encounter, a duel even closer than those that had preceded; after overcoming Germany’s Kilian Ort (11-5, 11-5, 10-12, 11-9, 11-5), he ended the hopes of Finland’s Benedek Olah, the no.12 seed and the player who in 2016 won the Men’s Singles title at the ITTF World Tour Nigeria Open in a tension packed duel. Can Akkuzu emerged successful by the very narrowest of margins (8-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9).
A dramatic win but quite mild when compared with the efforts of Benedikt Duda; he beat Antoine Hachard, like Can Akkuzu from France, in seven games (12-14, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7, 7-11, 11-7) to reserve his quarter-place prior to performing the recovery of the day. He lost the first three games against Japan’s Kenji Matsudaira, like Antoine Hachard a qualifier, before winning the next four to secure victory (7-11, 7-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6).
Meanwhile, for Panagiotis Gionis life was somewhat less exacting, for Ricardo Walther without an alarm bells sounding. Panagiotis Gionis accounted for qualifier Andrea Landrieu of France in four straight games (11-5, 11-9, 11-7, 11-4), prior to overcoming Egypt’s Mohamed El-Beiali, the no.23 seed, in six games (11-8, 8-11, 9-11, 11-3, 12-10, 11-4).
Somewhat similarly Ricardo Walther reserved his penultimate round place without being extended the full distance; five games wins were the order of proceedings; he accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Hung Tzu-Hsiang, the no.30 seed (11-4, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7) before ending the aspirations of Japan’s Mizuki Oikawa, the no.31 seed (11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7).
At the semi-final stage Ricardo Walther meets Can Akkuzu, Panagiotis Gionis opposes Benedikt Duda; proceedings in Zagreb conclude on Saturday 14th April.