By Ian Marshall, Editor
Consistent performances, it was very similar last year for the 32 year old; on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour, he was a quarter-finalist in both Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Equally, Daniel Habesohn has an ITTF World Tour men’s singles title to his credit, in 2014 he won in Hungary.
Somewhat similarly, Paniagotis Gionis of Greece has proved a most dependable performer this year; a quarter-final finish in Montreux, progress to round two in Budapest; furthermore last year he defended successfully his ITTF Challenge Croatian Open title. In Otocec he is the no.4 seed.
The performances in Montreux and more recently in Budapest suggest Daniel Habesohn and Panagiotis Gionis commence play in Slovenia with a degree of confidence. Meanwhile to a greater extent, the efforts of Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar in the Hungarian capital city advocate the same. The no.8 seed in Otocec, he advanced to the fourth road, having in March reached the semi-finals in Oman. However, last week in Belgrade, when the no.2 seed, he suffered a shock second round defeat at the hands of Russia’s 18 year old Lev Katsman.
Now does Tomislav Pucar need to prove a point? Was the result in Serbia a hiccup for the tall 23 year who this year has been a revelation, or has a halcyon period come to a close? Moreover, is that not the situation with the remaining leading names on Otocec men’s singles duty? Do they have even greater points to prove?
Ricardo Walther, the winner on the ITTF World Tour in 2014 in Croatia, is the no.2 seed but he did not gain selection for the German team in Budapest. Likewise, Brazil’s Gustavo Tsuboi, the no.3 seed and bronze medallist in early February at the Universal 2019 Pan American Cup, departed in the opening round in Hungary; a situation that applied also the Egypt’s Omar Assar, the no.5 seed and winner on the ITTF World Tour in Nigeria in both 2014 and 2015.
Meanwhile, Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej, the no.6 seed and semi-finalist last year in Belarus, departed in round two in Budapest as did Portugal’s João Monteiro, the no.7 seed; however I would suggest that the men’s doubles bronze secured in partnership with Tiago Apolonia was more than consolation.
Points to prove and last week did one Frenchman not prove his point? Abdel-Kader Salifou finished the runner up in Belgrade, he started play in the qualification stage, in Otocec it is same again; in the Slovenian city could prove his point even more indelibly?