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.