15 Apr 2018

Defending champion, Panagiotis Gionis of Greece retained his Men’s Singles title at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Croatia Open in Zagreb on the afternoon of Saturday 14th April.

Once again the defensive skills of the 38 year old dentist prevailed.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

At the final hurdle he beat a predecessor in the guise of Germany’s Ricardo Walther, the top seed and the winner in 2014 in Zagreb when he overcame Japan’s Kaii Yoshida to secure the title.

In a hard fought duel Panagiotis Gionis emerged successful in five games (11-13, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5, 12-10); a closely contested duel but the previous engagement, the semi-final confrintation in opposition to Benedikt Duda, the no.2 seed and also from Germany, was even closer. Panagiotis Gionis needed the full seven games to secure victory (11-9, 5-11, 4-11, 11-5, 11-13, 11-8, 11-8).

Near to an exit, looking back, Panagiotis Gionis almost departed in round one; he needed the full seven games to beat Spain’s Jesus Cantero (4-11, 8-11, 11-5, 4-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-4).

“I like to play in Zagreb. It reminds me of Greece with so many hours of sunshine. I’ve played here a many times as a young player. Two years ago I was in the quarter-finals, last year I won this tournament and now I did it again. I started the tournament very badly and almost lost my first match, I was so lucky; from match to match I started to play better and better. I had a very close semi-final against Duda; after winning that match I was full of confidence; that was a reason why I have now won in Zagreb two years in row.” Panagiotis Gionis

A major success for Panagiotis Gionis, it was also major progress for Frenchman Can Akkuzu, the no.16 seed, beaten by Ricardo Walther in the semi-final round (11-3, 11-7, 14-12, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8), it was notable progress.

2018 Croatia Open Panagiotis Gionis

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