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Pictures by Philippe Rochais

Nantes Open: Quarter-Finals - As it Happens

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Follow us here for reports and reaction from the quarter-finals of the Men's Open International de Squash de Nantes, where the battle for a place in the last four intensifies.

You can watch all the action LIVE on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player.

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Here’s Today’s Order of Play
(All times are local GMT+2)
17:30 [1] Daryl Selby (ENG) v [Q] Joel Makin (WAL)
18:30 [8] Olli Tuominen (FIN) v [4] Gregoire Marche (FRA)
21:00 [5] Declan James (ENG) v [2] Chris Simpson (ENG)
22:00 [3] Tom Richards (ENG) v [6] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY)

Selby Sees Off Makin to Secure Semi-Final Spot

England’s World No.19 Daryl Selby stepped up his attempts to lift a first PSA World Tour title since 2012 after a 3-0 win over Welshman Joel Makin saw him move through to the last four at the Cité Internationale des Congrès.

A dazzling early set of rallies set the stall out for the encounter, with an 80-shot plus rally indicative of both player’s strong fitness levels and consistency. The duo were neck and neck for the majority of the opening game, with Selby just managing to edge ahead after a loose shot from World No.82 Makin saw a stroke given against him.


Selby shot out of the blocks though in the second, surging to a 6-1 lead, before Makin felt his way back into the encounter, with his impressive retrieval abilities wowing a captivated crowd.

But Selby stayed calm to close out the game and double his advantage, before some high-octane rallies between the pair in game three brought more raucous applause from the spectators as Makin built up a three-point lead for the first time in the match.

The momentum was soon back in Selby’s favour though as some lovely touches towards the front of the court enabled him to reel the Welshman back in and amass two match balls. A tinned volley from Makin then brought an end to the encounter, with Selby winning it 11-9, 11-5, 11-8 to progress to the semi-final stage.


“I thought my length was good, but I just couldn’t get it to die off, and he picked up so many balls,” said Selby, who will face either Gregoire Marche in the next round.

“He makes you win the rally three, four or five times, but I’m really happy with the way I played. If I hadn’t have been as sharp as I was and playing as well as I was then that could have potentially been a big upset because he is playing much, much higher than his ranking.

Defending champion Gregoire Marche will take on top seed Daryl Selby in the semi-final of the Open International de Squash de Nantes after recovering from a game down to defeat the experienced Finnish No.1 Olli Tuominen on home soil.

The Frenchman, ranked No.29 in the World, and Tuominen, a former World No.13, had met on two previous occasions with both players winning a game apiece, and it was the latter who profited in the early stages this time, going a game to the good after a measured period of play saw him resist Marche’s attempts to raise the tempo of the match.

Marche, known on Tour as ‘The Acrobat’, battled back in the second game to restore parity and he came out on top of some fast-paced rallies in the third to take the lead for the first time in the encounter, drawing vociferous applause from his home crowd.

A splendid start to game four saw Marche power into a 4-0 lead, with his furious speed drawing 37-year-old Tuominen into committing a number of strokes. The experienced Fin grew into the game the longer it went on, but Marche held off any attempt at a comeback to close out a 4-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 triumph.

“It felt good to end the match like this,” Marche said.

“I felt a bit stressed in the first two games, I tried to relax as much as possible and tried to win differently. I’m just happy to win 3-1 against a good Olli Tuominen tonight.

“I’m not sure why I was stressed, I guess playing at home, the will to do well, to show good squash [was the cause], and I forgot to play basic squash. I didn’t play my best squash, but I just couldn’t let it slip, especially in front of such a crowd. It’s amazing to have so many people supporting us.

“Last year, I came here to find my marks and start the season. This year, I’m the number four seed, I just reached my seeding, so now I can relax, it’s all a bonus from here. I hope I’m going to let go of the stress and play my best squash, produce a big performance, and not have any regrets.”

Up next for Marche is a meeting with pre-tournament title favourite Selby, with the Englishman prevailing in both of the duo’s previous fixtures.

Marche is eagerly anticipating the matchup, adding: “It’s always been a tough battle against Selby and I’m really looking forward to this one. Daryl is a good guy, we know each other pretty well and we share some time on the golf course sometimes. I hope it’s going to be a good match.”

Result:
[4] Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt [8] Olli Tuominen (FIN) 3-1: 4-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 (63m)

Simpson Prevails over James in All-English Battle

England’s World No.23 Chris Simpson dispatched compatriot and training partner Declan James in a highly-entertaining four-game battle to advance to the last four – keeping alive his hopes of lifting back-to-back titles in France.

The Guernsey-born 29-year-old’s last PSA World Tour title came at the IG Open de Paris back in May, where he overcame James, who is ranked 16 World Ranking places lower, in straight games in the final.

Things were a lot harder for Simpson this time around though, with a one-game lead, built up after a passage of clinical play, soon being wiped out after a mature display from 23-year-old James in game two.


The duo contested a number of brutal rallies in a high-octane third game, with Simpson coming out on top again after unforced errors began to creep into James’s game, and the higher-ranked Englishman closed the fourth out impressively to secure safe passage through to the semi-final.

“Dec and I haven’t played a lot, but we’ve trained a lot and we actually played in the final of a tournament the same size as this in Paris at the end of last season,” said Simpson, who was playing his 350th PSA World Tour match.

“I knew that he was playing above his ranking, above his seeding here and it was a very tough draw and a very tough match.

“I tried to stop Declan from having the middle of the court because he’s very big and his skills are his strength, so I tried to keep it very tight. I thought I did that very well, apart from the second game when maybe I hit too many errors.”

Result:
[2] Chris Simpson (ENG) bt [5] Declan James (ENG) 3-1: 11-5, 4-11, 11-6, 11-7 (56m)

Richards Completes English Trio in Semis

World No.26 Tom Richards ensured that there will be a guaranteed Englishman in the final after he joined compatriots Daryl Selby and Chris Simpson in the last four – where he will face the latter – courtesy of a tight 3-2 win over Egypt’s Karim Ali Fathi.

Richards looked to be sailing to a comfortable win after surging into a two-game lead, but a complete shift in momentum saw Fathi fight back with a vengeance to claw two games back without reply, sending the match into a dramatic showdown. But Richards then dominated the court to build up seven match balls, and he converted at the second attempt to wrap up a punishing 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4 triumph in 76 minutes.

“I switched off a little bit for the two games I lost,” Richards admitted.

“He played better, he played well, and I was really annoyed with myself after the fourth game.

“I just thought that I had done so much training throughout the summer, so I might as well give it all I can in the fifth and luckily it paid off.”

Richards and Fathi were playing against each other for only the second time since Fathi’s victory at last year’s El Gouna International, and the opening stages were closely contested, with World No.41 Fathi hitting the shot of the match with a superb cross court nick from the back right corner of the court.

He fell away after that though, with a consistent Richards romping to a one-game lead. A series of exciting rallies then lit up the second game, with one passage of play in particular seeing Richards drop his racket mid-way through, but recover in time to win the point.


That gave the Englishman the impetus to edge 2-0 ahead, but he was pushed hard by Fathi in the third and fourth games as the Cairo-born 23-year-old dug in and displayed some intelligent shot selection to battle back and level proceedings, before Richards held off his attempts in the fifth to reach the next round.

Result:
[3] Tom Richards (ENG) bt [6] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-2: 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4 (77m)


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