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European Olympic Singles Qualification

GIONIS, IONESCU and SIRUCEK on their way to Tokyo

Photo: Rita TABORDA, courtesy PTTA

Greek star Panagiotis GIONIS will play at his fifth Olympic Games this year in Tokyo, Ovidiu IONESCU of Romania will play his second and Pavel SIRUCEK of Czech Republic will play his first Olympics. That is the outcome of the final day at the European Olympic Singles Qualification Tournament in Guimarães. Day earlier Alvaro ROBLES of Spain and KOU Lei of Ukraine already booked their places in Japan.

In the semi final of the Stage 3, GIONIS overcame Pavel SIRUCEK of Czech Republic (-6, 10, 8, 4, 7).

“It was not difficult match only because I had to face very good adversary, it was difficult for the reason we are very good friends and teammate for two years now. We know each other well. The tension was very big,” said GIONIS.

Panagiotis, seeded no. three in Portugal, faced early exit in the Second stage.

“I lost to Alvaro ROBLES who is very strong opponent. I know him very well and he has very good answer to my game. Also he was already in good rhythm after three matches in Group Stage, whilst it was first match for me at the tournament. I needed some time to find the rhythm. Despite the defeat, I felt good, I was satisfied with my shape and I took time to prepare for a second part of the tournament,” explained GIONIS.

In the second round GIONIS met Lubomir PISTEJ and prevailed in seven games.

“That was the player I wanted to “avoid” the most. For me it was very tough draw, so I had to fight very hard. Later, I had a very good match against Rares SIPOS. RARES is in splendid form, but he had difficulties playing against defender.”

Photo: Rita TABORDA, courtesy PTTA

Ovidiu IONESCU beat Paul DRINKHALL of Great Britain in second semi final to book his place at the Olympics (3, 6, 5, -10, 8).

“I had a very tough draw and I had to play against the players who I know very well. I lived in the same flat with DRINKHALL for two years, I played so many times against him before. This is my first win over him in career. I am sorry that he got injured here and that he was not in the top shape against me,” said IONESCU.

Ovidiu played against teammate in the quarterfinal.

“I had a bed start of the match against Daniel HABESOHN. I struggled against him, I had difficulties with my service game, but when I came down, I managed to win,” added IONESCU.

The match for the fifth qualifier between Pavel SIRUCEK and Paul DRINKHALL

In the quarter final Rares SIPOS of Romania lost to Panagiotis GIONIS (7, 8, 10, 5), Paul DRINKHALL overcame Eric GLOD of Luxembourg (8, 10, 8, 6) and Pavel SIRUCEK prevailed against Mihai BOBOCICA of Italy (7, 5, -7, -8, 5, 10), Ovidiu IONESCU beat Daniel HABESOHN of Austria in most dramatic encounter of the quarterfinal (-3, -8, 10, 8, -9, 1, 7).

DRINKHALL and SIRUCEK were on duty in the final match of the tournament – the duel for the fifth place at the Olympics. SIRUCEK won (3, 3, -6, -8, 7, 7).

“After I had won two opening games, I got scared. It was too easy. At that moment Paul start to play fantastic game,” explained Pavel.

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