France’s World No.87 Baptiste Masotti staged an emphatic comeback to defeat Finland’s number eight seed Olli Tuominen to reach the semi-finals of the Open International de Squash de Nantes and become the last remaining Frenchman at the tournament.
Masotti was staring down the barrel of defeat as he was 10-5 down in the fifth. However, the 23-year-old, roared on by the support of the partisan crowd who packed out the Théâtre Graslin, managed to deny Tuominen the victory to take a dramatic 11-9, 7-11, 7-11, 11-2, 12-10 victory and book his place in the semi-finals of the PSA Challenger event.
“I didn’t feel like I played really well but I just kept my plan,” said the Frenchman. “When I was 10-5 down I just kept playing and the win is for my family – they were watching me and this win is for them.
“I’m pretty sure at 10-5 down in the fifth in other venues not in France, I would lose 90% of the time. But here, I’m in front of my crowd, I won and it’s great that they are here cheering for me.”
The Frenchman will face England’s Declan James for a place in the final after he sensationally downed three-time champion Gregoire Marche in the last match of the day.
The World No.23 played with composure and accuracy to ensure that there would be a new men’s champion at the tournament for the first time.
“It could have been a semi-final or a final that match and really you just have to enjoy these occasions when you are playing such great players,” said the 25-year-old.
“That mindset allowed me to stay composed and just focus on my squash. Gregoire is a multiple champion here so I knew that he would play his best squash and that it would be a really tough match. I thought all I had to do was go out there and play as best as I can and that was important to me tonight.”
Meanwhile in the women’s draw, defending champion Fiona Moverley kept her title defence alive after she fought off Belgium’s World No.50 Tinne Gilis.
Moverley took the first two games comfortably before a spirited comeback from Gilis threatened to disrupt her rhythm. However, the Englishwoman was able to regain her composure and utilise her experience to claim a 3-1 win against the 20-year-old Belgian.
“I was looking to attack and stay in front of her and then I don’t really know what happened in the third,” said World No.24 Moverley. “I knew being 2-0 down her only option was to come back at me and she did.
“In the end I managed to turn it around and use my experience to get my basics back on track. I had to be patient, find my length and it turned itself around. I think she got a bit edgy and a few errors came in the end. I just stayed positive and pushed through.”
The Englishwoman will now face Tinne’s older sister, Nele Gilis, in the semi-finals in a repeat of last year’s final, where Moverley took the title in straight-games.
World No.33 Gilis looked in good form earlier in the day as she comfortably downed South Africa’s World No.49 Alexandra Fuller in straight-games to reach the next round.
“I’ve been enjoying my squash this week and for me that’s the main thing,” said the Belgian after reaching her second successive semi-final in Nantes.
“It’s an incredible venue. I told myself that I just wanted to enjoy myself and make the most of this opportunity and I did. I’m so happy that I get to play here again tomorrow.”
The Open International de Squash de Nantes reaches the semi-finals stage tomorrow (Saturday September 8) with all matches taking place on the glass court at the Théâtre Graslin. Matches begin at 17:15 local time (GMT +2).
Results: Men’s Quarter-finals (Bottom half)
Baptiste Masotti (FRA) bt  Olli Tuominen (FIN) 3-2: 11-9, 7-11, 7-11, 11-2, 12-10 (66m)
 Declan James (ENG) bt  Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-6 (55m)
Results: Women’s Quarter-finals (Bottom half)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt  Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-5 (32m)
 Fiona Moverley (ENG) bt  Tinne Gilis (BEL) 3-1: 11-5, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8 (35m)
Draw: Men’s Semi-finals – To be played September 8
 James Willstrop (ENG) v  Zahed Salem (EGY)
Baptiste Masotti (FRA) v  Declan James (ENG)
Draw: Women’s Semi-finals – To be played September 8
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) v Lucy Turmel (ENG)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) v  Fiona Moverley (ENG)