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Mathieu Castagnet

Open International de Nantes - Day One: As it Happens

Follow us here for reports and reaction as the 2017 Open International de Squash de Nantes – the first tournament of 2017/18 to be shown LIVE on SQUASHTV – gets under way in France.

Top seeded French players Gregoire Marche and Coline Aumard will look to get their tournaments off to the perfect start when they star at Les Machines de l’île – home to the incredible Grand Elephant – while the likes of former World No.6 Mathieu Castagnet and Nele Gilis are also in action.

We will also bring you updates away from the glass court as women's top seed Millie Tomlinson begins her tournament at La Maison Du Squash.

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

Not able to watch? Check out our live scoring page

Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local CEST)
17:00 Hana Moataz (EGY) v [4] Nele Gilis (BEL)
18:00 [1] Gregoire Marche (FRA) v [Q] Mazen Gamal (EGY)
20:30 [3] Coline Aumard (FRA) v [Q] Menna Hamed (EGY)
21:30 Lucas Serme (FRA) v [2] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)

Top Seed Tomlinson and Subramaniam through to Quarter Finals

Millie Tomlinson in action in Nantes (Courtesy of Hamish Irvine/PSA)

Top seed Millie Tomlinson began her Open International de Squash de Nantes tournament with a win as she recovered from a shock one-game deficit to see off tournament wildcard France’s World No.140 Julie Rossignol.

Tomlinson started well but soon errors began to creep into her game in the opener as she hit the tin on a number of occasions to allow Rossignol back into the game and level the scores at 6-6. From that moment on, the first game continued to be a tight affair until the Frenchwoman took the first game by an 9-11 scoreline.

The woman from England began her fightback in the second as kept Rossignol at the back of the court to level the scores. Tomlinson then continued to dominate and control the game as she took the third game 11-4.

Rossignol went ahead early in the fourth before Tomlinson hit back to level the scores at 3-3 and then failed to drop another point as she stormed to a 9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 victory.

“I’m really pleased to get through to the next round and more relieved than anything!” said Tomlinson after the match.

“I didn’t start very well but I guess that it’s the first tournament of the season so I was kind of expecting that and she mixed her shots up really well so that caught me by surprise. She was shooting off the serve and things which I’m not used to.

“She should have been the easiest draw of the tournament really with her being a wildcard but I looked at some of her previous tournaments and results and she has some good results so I expected her to be tough.

“I increased the pace of the game when I went down and tried to keep her in the back corners because she was beating me at the front.

“I’m looking forward to playing on the glass court tomorrow, it looks really cool and I’m looking forward to seeing the elephant and the seating looks really good as well.”

Rossignol added: “She didn’t know my game, so I think I surprised her a bit to start with. I was able to lead in the opener, but after that she speeded up the game and I just couldn’t follow for long enough.”

Tomlinson will take on Malaysia's Sivasangari Subramaniam in the quarter finals, after she came from two games down to beat Egypt's Rowan Elaraby in round one.

“I don’t think I played well at all, but in the last two, I sort of managed to create a gap that put her under pressure and gave me confidence,” said Subramaniam.

[1] Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt [WC] Julie Rossignol (FRA) 3-0: 9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 (28m)
[Q] Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) bt [8] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 3-2: 3-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 (36m)

Tuominen Downs Reda to Earn Last Eight Berth

Olli Tuominen (courtesy of Hamish Irvine/PSA)

Experienced Finnish campaigner Olli Tuominen put in a fine display to see off Egypt's Mohamed Reda on day one of the 2017 Open International de Squash de Nantes to reach the quarter-finals for the second year in a row.

The match started on an even keel with both players playing consistent squash but 38-year-old Tuominen, the World No.46, soon pulled away to take eight of the next 10 points on offer to go a game ahead.

Reda came out all guns blazing in the second as he buried the ball deep into the court to surge into a 6-1 lead but some deft touches from the man from Finland saw him reel Reda back in and he matched his late game dominance from the opener to take nine successive points before sealing it 11-7.

World No.41 Reda continued to battle in the third game, pushing Tuominen all the way to a tie-break and even amassing game balls of his own, but the Fin dug in his heels to reverse the scoreline and he profited off a stroke against Reda to seal his place in the next round.

“It’s nice to win in the first round and he was higher seeded, so I thought I played well to control the match most of the time,” said Tuominen, who will meet either Mazen Hesham or George Parker in the last eight.

“The third game was the crucial one, it was really close and he had a couple of game balls. He was pushing hard, playing well and he didn’t make many mistakes in the third so I had to hang in there.

“In the end, it changed and I managed to get a couple of points to finish it off on the tie-break.

“Everyone wants to play on the glass court and I’m delighted to win the first so I get to go and play there. I hope I can get my game going there, obviously it’s a different kind of court and I will have to get used to it.

“But I have been training on the glass a little bit, so I should be okay.”

Reda said: “I had a very slow start today, I'm not sure what happened as I have been training well and playing well recently.

“I guess it was an off day but the turning point is in the second, where I led 6-1 and manage to lose the game 11-7. It's time to go back home, regroup and see what is happening before my next tournament in Charlottesville.”

Olli Tuominen (FIN) bt [8] Mohamed Reda (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 14-12 (47m)

El Torky beats Mickawy

Nouran El Torky (Photo by Hamish Irvine/PSA)

Egyptian qualifier Nouran El Torky continued her journey in Nantes as she came out on top in a gruelling five-game encounter against compatriot Zeina Mickawy.

El Torky – who beat both Charlotte Delsinne and Enora Villard in qualifying – started brightly taking the first game 11-8.

However, Mickawy found a way back to take the second game 5-11 and bring the scores back level as she began to vary her shots and move El Torky around the court. Mickawy then took the third game as it went right down to the wire, with Mickawy winning 12-14 on a tie-break.

The momentum of the game then continued to swing back and forth as El Torky once again regained her form and showed her determination to take the fourth game 11-5, before putting Mickawy to the sword in the final game of a tough encounter 11-2 to book her place in the quarter-finals for the first time in Nantes.

“I'm really grateful for the win today and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's match. I want to thank my coaches Ahmed Shohayed and Ahmed Hossam Johnny and I'm excited to play tomorrow.

“I can’t wait to play on the glass court for the first time here in Nantes and for me it is the first tournament of the season and so I’m excited to be in the quarters but I’ve been really training hard all summer so I’m really pleased that my training has paid off so far.”

[Q] Nouran El Torky bt [7] Zeina Mickawy 3-2: 11-8, 5-11, 12-14, 11-5, 11-2 (50m)

Simpson Returns to See Off Essam

Chris Simpson (Picture courtesy of Hamish Irvine / PSA)

England’s Chris Simpson made a winning return from an eight-month injury layoff after the Harrogate-based 30-year-old defeated Egyptian qualifier Shehab Essam by a 3-1 margin.

Simpson, the 2016 runner-up, had made just one PSA World Tour appearance in 2017 – in January’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions – and he was slow to find his best form in the early stages as an impressive Essam went 7-5 up.

The World No.35 recovered though to go a game ahead but he was on the back foot for the entirety of the second game after some intelligent play from Essam in the front corners paid dividends for the 22-year-old.

Simpson then came out on top in a tight third game before taking the fourth for the loss of four points to reach the quarter-finals – where he could face the man who beat him in last year’s final, Gregoire Marche, if the Frenchman can overcome Mazen Gamal in his first round encounter.

An emotional Simpson, who became a father while he was out injured, admitted that the injury had almost brought an end to his career and also spoke of his nervousness about his return to the court.

“I was shaking like a leaf from about an hour before the match up to now,” he said.

“On the court, I could feel my hands shaking and, I’m quite emotional I have to say. I didn’t think I would ever play squash again and that I was maybe not even be able to recover fully.

“That’s why I’m that emotional, it’s not just a win. I cannot believe I got that emotional about a game of squash.

“I had a little boy while I was out of the Tour.  Since I was 10 years old, I have been thinking about squash every single day. It’s part of you really. When I had to address if I could play squash ever again or not, I didn’t think I could ever live without it.

“But after a month out, I didn’t think about squash at all and I guess it did me a heck of a good to live like a normal person and not be obsessed with squash. I just now realise how lucky I am to live the life I live, being able to play squash on Tour.”

[5] Chris Simpson (ENG) bt [Q] Shehab Essam (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 4-11, 11-8, 11-4 (48m)

Naughton Comes Through in Five & Kobayashi Makes the Last Eight

Hollie Naughton celebrates (taken by Hamish Irvine/PSA)

Canada’s Hollie Naughton saw off England’s Julianne Courtice in five games as she came from 2-1 down in the opening round of the Open International de Squash de Nantes.

Naughton won the first game 11-4, before Courtice – a semi-finalist at last year's event – hit back and took the next two games 11-7 and 11-3 as she began to take control of the game.

However, Naughton soon regained her composure and began to control the ‘T’ as she forced Courtice to move around the court with her variation of shots and she saw out the five-game encounter by a 11-4, 7-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-5 scoreline to secure a quarter-final berth.

“It was good in patches, it was always going to be a tough match,” said Naughton.

“I played Julianne about six months ago and lost so I knew she has got good hands and that I would have to perform well but it wasn’t bad for the first tournament of the season.

“I knew that I had to find my length a bit better and try and control it more. I was over-hitting the length a bit too much and forcing it to the front when I wasn’t there so I just tried to settle a bit more and find the length and take it from there and try and play simple.

“It was running through my head to not lose so I could play on the glass court. I do like playing on glass courts so I’m excited to get the opportunity to go on there.”

Japan’s Misaki Kobayashi also booked her place in the last eight with a 3-1 win over England’s Rachael Chadwick.

[5] Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-2: 11-4, 7-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-5 (40m)
[6] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt Rachael Chadwick (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 (30m)

Hesham Holds Off Parker

Mazen Hesham (left) v George Parker (right) - Picture courtesy of Hamish Irvine / PSA

Egyptian maverick Mazen Hesham will take on Finland’s Olli Tuominen in the last eight of the Open International de Squash de Nantes after ‘The Black Falcon’ prevailed over English qualifier George Parker by a 3-1 margin.

Former World No.13 Hesham has slipped to No.70 in the World Rankings after an injury-hit 2016/17 campaign, but his shot-making talents were in full flow in the opener as he took it 11-6.

A resilient Parker dug in though in the second and the Leicester-based 21-year-old took it on the tie-break after Hesham had saved a number of game balls.

But Hesham reasserted himself on the match in the third and fourth games, taking them both by 11-7 margins to move into the quarter-finals.

“I was trying to do too much,” said Hesham.

“I just needed to stick to the game plan mentally and get my shots in. I was good in the first game but then everything started going into the tin and he started playing better and better and he is actually a really dangerous player. I had to keep my head all the way but I couldn’t.

“In the second I played really well even though I get up so quickly and then lose so quickly, so I need to work on this tomorrow. I got myself really tired. I think I was lucky because I thought he was injured but I think he was tired from yesterday’s match. Otherwise it would have been so, so hard.

“But overall, I’m happy to be back and playing. I just want to feel like a regular professional player, travelling, playing, losing, winning, getting some points and trying to recover.

“I wanted to do the whole thing again. I think I’m starting from scratch, which is good and bad at the same time because I think I lost the hunger with the injury and everything but now I’m getting it back. I’ll take it match-by-match by now.”

[3] Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt [Q] George Parker (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 12-14, 11-7, 11-7 (47m)

Moverley Books Place in Quarter-Finals with Win over Fuller

England's Fiona Moverley in action (taken by Hamish Irvine/PSA)

England’s Fiona Moverley secured her place in the quarter-finals as she came through in four against South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller.

Moverley took the first two games, both by an 11-8 tight scoreline as both players forced each other around the court.

Fuller then began to fight back as she took the third game 11-7. However, the Englishwoman was able to come through in four and book her place in the next round.

“It’s nice to get the first match of a new season out of the way,” said Moverley after the match.

“I’m kind of glad to get it over and done with really and get through in four because she’s playing really well and I knew she would be tough. She hit some really good lines and she’s really strong so I had to dig in and then when I went behind in the fourth game, I thought ‘I really don’t want to go home’ and I don’t want this to go to a fifth so I just dug in.

“I think towards the end she made a couple of errors and I just kind of showed I wasn’t going to get off court without winning that last game so I was really glad to get off in four.

“My last tournament was in April at the World Champs so it’s been a long summer. It’s getting back in that mind frame of tournaments and competitive matches, you can have practice matches to get ready for it but it’s completely different when you walk on for your first match and first tournament and hopefully it will get better as we go along.”

[2] Fiona Moverley (ENG) bt [Q] Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-1: 11-8, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8

Mueller and Al Tamimi Set Up Quarter-Final Clash

Nicolas Mueller - Picture courtesy of Hamish Irvine / PSA

Swiss World No.30 Nicolas Mueller got the better of Jordan’s Mohammad Alsarraj in four games to ensure that he will face Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi for a place in the semi-finals.

Mueller, 28, found himself pegged back in the second after going a game to the good against the World Junior Championship semi-finalist but he remained composed in the final two games to record an 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6 victory in 39 minutes.

“He played two qualifying matches, back-to-back and you could see that at the beginning he was quite tired,” said Mueller.

“I took advantage of that well, I exposed his movement in the beginning when he was a bit stiff. I was very happy to win the first then in the second he was the better player and I had a bad start and I could see his engines start running off, but I managed to win so I’m happy.

“It’s a similar game [against Abdulla] to the one I just played. It’s all about him, if he hits winners then he hits winners, it’s more about taming him and not giving him too many angles. He's always going to hit shots, but he’ll also hit the tin as well and it’s about making him hit more tins than winners.”

Meanwhile, Al Tamimi moved to within one place of the semi-finals after he beat men’s wildcard Auguste Dussourd, recovering from a game down to win it 3-1.

“I was very nervous and edgy, this was my first match since April,” said Al Tamimi.

“I took a long time off to make sure I prepared well for the new season.
In the first game I didn’t play well, I was rushing a bit and he played so well, like eight or nine winners, there was not much I could do there anyway.

“But it’s nice to get a win and to be back on the glass court playing on SquashTV and it’s also nice to get a day off tomorrow too.”

[4] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt [Q] Mohammad Alsarraj (JOR) 3-1: 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6 (39m)
[7] Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) bt [WC] Auguste Dussourd (FRA) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-4 (41m)

Gilis Seals Win in Tough Encounter with Moataz

Nele Gilis records win over Hana Moataz (taken by Hamish Irvine/PSA)

Belgium’s Nele Gilis successfully manoeuvred her way past a tough Hana Moataz to secure a berth in the quarter-finals of the Open International de Squash de Nantes.

Egypt’s Moataz started brightly, hitting hard shots, as she recorded a tight 11-9 win over Gilis to take the first game with some fantastic long rallies contested between the pair.

In the second game, it was all Gilis as she took just six minutes to level the scores, showing good strength to hit back at the young Egyptian after a disappointing loss in the first game.

The Belgian then continued to show good temperament and determination as she took the third game with Moataz making a handful of errors by hitting the tin.

Moataz struggled to eliminate the unforced errors from her game as Gilis extended her lead to take the third game. However, the 17-year-old showed strong character to fight back against the number four seed as she drew level with a 11-9 win in the fourth.

The deciding game continued to mirror the pattern of the early stages of the contest with both players moving each other around the court making it a tight affair. However, Gilis showed her determination to seal the match with an 11-7 victory in the final game.

“It was really tough but I was expecting it to be,” said Gilis following the game.

“I had a game plan and I stuck to it as much as I could and that made a difference. She hits a really nice ball and she likes to hit fast paced and so I tried to take that away from her and it worked.

“She’s good and definitely one to watch for the future and I’m really happy to start with a win.

“Playing here is awesome, I love playing on glass courts but it’s usually against one of the top ten players but I usually end up getting chopped so it was nice to get the win today.”

[4] Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Hana Moataz (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-3, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7 (59m)

Defending Champ Marche Comes Through Gamal Test

Gregoire Marche (left) v Mazel Gamal (right) - Picture courtesy of Hamish Irvine / PSA

Home favourite Gregoire Marche got his efforts to win a third successive Open International de Squash de Nantes title off to a start as he recovered from a game down to beat Egyptian qualifier Mazen Gamal.

The Frenchman, who will face the man he beat in last year’s final – Chris Simpson – for a place in the semi-finals, went a game behind after Gamal quickly found his range amidst a nervy start from the defending champion.

But a strong response from the number one seed saw him fly out of the traps in the second and he drew level for the loss of four points before taking the third by the same scoreline.

A composed display from the World No.23 saw him vary the height and length of his shots to great effect as he closed out the fourth game to claim an 8-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 triumph that sees him move to within one win of a third straight semi-final in Nantes.

“I think he took his chances tonight, I was a bit flat at the beginning and I was a bit nervous because I knew all of the crowd were cheering for me and I did well the last two years,” admitted Marche.

“I was a bit nervous and I tried to play simple after the first game. Even if I didn't feel great tonight, I had to do my job and play as simple as I could. It all paid off in the end.

“It’s the only big tournament in France, so there aren’t many occasions to play squash in France. I feel like the crowd really supports us and it’s a great place. They take good care of us and it’s great to be here.”

Simpson has spent the last eight months sidelined with a hip injury and Marche is expecting a different match to the one they had in the title decider 12 months ago.

“I don’t think it will be the same match against Chris as last year because it was the final, so there was more pressure maybe,” he said.

“It’s the beginning of the season, I don’t know where my game is and it might be difficult for him as well because he’s had a long time out.

“I’ll try to stick to my game plan and see how it goes.”

[1] Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt [Q] Mazen Gamal (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 (45m)

Home Favourite Aumard Books Quarter-Final Spot

Menna Hamed (left) Coline Aumard (right) - picture courtesy of Hamish Irvine/PSA

In the final women’s round one tie of the evening it was home hero Coline Aumard who booked her place in the last eight with a 3-1 win over Egypt’s World No.58 Menna Hamed.

The Frenchwoman got off to a slow start, going 4-0 down with Hamed – who had beaten Netherland’s Tessa ter Sluis and Belgium’s Tinne Gilis in the qualifying rounds – unsettling the home favourite but Aumard soon grew into the game to claim the first game by an 11-7 margin.

It was a physical encounter between the two with the referee constantly being called into action and points going back and forth between them and eventually it was Hamed who took the second game 13-11 after Aumard threw away four game ball opportunities.

However, the 28-year-old used her experience to pull her through the tight battle as the World No.26 took the third game 11-7.

Aumard continued to take control of proceedings in the fourth as she steamed ahead into a 4-0 lead before a number of unforced errors allowed Hamed back into the contest once more before the Frenchwoman pulled away to claim the final game and win the match by an 11-7, 11-13, 11-7, 11-6 scoreline.

She will now face Canada’s Hollie Naughton in the quarter-finals.

“It was a tough first match so I was ready to fight and we did fight,” said Aumard.

“It was quite a tough match and she played very well so I had to be very focused and play at my best today and I got the result I wanted.

“Every time you play a youngster she wants to win and you know it’s going to be physical and you have to be ready and I was and I’m used to this type of match.

“To be able to play a PSA tournament in France, I just feel so lucky and I’m very pleased. I would just like to say thank you to Nantes and the whole organisation because without them it wouldn’t be possible and they can be so proud of what they have done because it’s amazing and quite original as well.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played Hollie [Naughton] so it’s good and interesting to play a player that I’m not used to.”

[3] Coline Aumard (FRA) v [Q] Menna Hamed (EGY): 11-7, 11-13, 11-7, 11-6

Castagnet Axes Fellow Frenchman Serme to Bring a Halt to Day One

Mathieu Castagnet - Picture courtesy of Hamish Irvine / PSA

The final match on day one of the Open International de Squash de Nantes saw World No.26 Mathieu Castagnet overcome fellow Frenchman Lucas Serme to set up a last eight meeting with England’s Ben Coleman.

The opening game between the two was of an attritional nature, with both player’s impressive retrieval skills leading to a series of long rallies.

Castagnet attacked the better of the two though and he pulled away from 6-6, with a sublime volley drop setting up his first game ball, which he duly converted after a tin from Serme.

The second game followed along a similar vein as Castagnet’s superior control again saw him edge it out to claim a two-game lead, with the 30-year-old displaying the kind of squash that took him as high as No.6 in the World Rankings in 2016.

But Serme kept up pressure in the third and it eventually took its toll on Castagnet, whose movement slowed down considerably as Serme halved the deficit.

Castagnet recovered though to come out on top in the fourth game to triumph 11-6, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5 in 68 minutes.

“It’s not easy to play Lucas, he’s such a good friend of mine and we’ve been playing together in the French team for eight years now,” said Castagnet.

“When I checked the draw I wasn’t happy that I would be meeting him in front of the French crowd. He’s a really talented guy and he’s a fighter. Physically, he’s very strong, so I tried to play a simple game against him.”

Injury issues during the 2016/17 campaign saw Castagnet plummet down the rankings but the affable Frenchman is looking forward to the future.

“I’m trying to to forget last season because of my injuries,” he explained.

“I had surgery in May and then I started to lose weight, I lost seven kilograms. Then I trained really hard and one positive thing was that I got married to Laura [Pomportes], so that was great.

“It’s only my third or fourth time in front of the French crowd playing a PSA tournament so that’s a great thing for me. Only two French players are still in the [men’s] draw, so hopefully we can play a nice final for the crowd.”

[2] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-1: 11-6, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5 (68m)

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