As if a day had not passed since his absence from active action due to injury, the Panathinaikos athlete presented himself fully prepared physically and mentally and passed the “obstacles” in the round of 16 and in the quarterfinals on Thursday (24/ 11). With great performances, the top defender prevailed with a 4-0 set in the afternoon against the Slovenian Deni Kozul and in the evening against the Egyptian Omar Assar, who even figures at number 27 in the world.
Panagiotis Gionis claims his place in the final today, Friday 25/11, at 13:15 Greek time, against the great Dimitri Ovcharov from the host country, the 1st favorite on the board. In major tournaments of the international table tennis federation, it is the 4th time in his career that he enters the semi-finals of singles (he has 2 titles in Croatia and a 3rd place in Sweden) and when he succeeds in this again at the age of 43 and suffering from a chronic problem on the leg, it has another meaning. In technical guidance he is with him in these matches as well, the national federal coach Kostas Vatsaklis.
The leading Greek, number 98 in today’s world rankings, had started his effort directly from the main board. He had easily defeated Austria’s Andreas Levenko in the 1st round (and this game 4-0 sets), but in the 2nd he had to save a total of 6 match points against Taipei’s Feng Xin to pull off a huge upset 4-3 set. This development seemed to boost his morale a lot and today he looked unstoppable. He also plays on familiar ground and is beloved by the city’s fans since his two-year stint at Borussia Dusseldorf from 2014 to 2016.
In the round of 16, he faced the Slovenian Deni Kozul, number 161 in the international ranking list. He had the role of favorite and confirmed it with consistently good performance and absolute attention. It is indicative that he had the last word in all the critical points and won 3 sets with a marginal difference (11-7, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10). In the summer of 2022, Kozul was named Mediterranean “gold” in the team in Algeria, while he entered the round of 16 of the Mediterranean tournament in singles. He also placed in the “16” last year at the WTT Contender in Lasko, in his country.
In the quarter-finals the top Greek table tennis player faced Omar Assar, one of the best athletes in the modern history of African table tennis. Having a good knowledge of his game for years (he had disqualified him in the 2012 Olympics) he applied very correct tactics and maintained an excellent pace. At the same time, he hit on the weaknesses of the Egyptian against the defense and “forced” him to make many mistakes. He took the 1st set very hard and then was firmly in control to reach an emphatic 4-0. In the 3rd set he found himself losing 4-8 and reduced it to 7-8 for the other side to take a timeout. He came back just as focused and when he completed the reversal and took a 3-0 lead the match was essentially over (11-9, 11-5, 11-9, 11-4). Among other distinctions, the 31-year-old Asshar won the individual African Cup in 2022, last year he was the winner in the singles of the African championship (a total of 7 gold medals in the institution), while in 2013 he was 1st Mediterranean in the same event.
Panagiotis Gionis will face Dmitri Ovcharov today in the 4th round. The well-known top-class athlete, German, but also very familiar to him if we only remember their very strong matches in the last decade. Ovcharov is the 1st favorite of the German Feeder and number 9 in the world ranking. Theoretically he has the lead, he also comes from an injury adventure, but without any doubt Gionis, who has presented himself in Dusseldorf, can compete with him and reach the surprise, as he did against him in the past in a European club match. Ovcharov overcame Spain’s Alvaro Robles 4-2 in the quarterfinals and has generally had very tough wins to get this far. In the other semi-final, Germany’s Benedict Duda and France’s Caen Acouzou face each other
source: on sports