England’s Emily Whitlock is through to the quarter finals of this year’s Open de France – Nantes after beating defending champion Nele Gilis in a repeat of last year’s final.
The pair met in the final of the 2018 Open International de Squash de Nantes with the Belgian winning a five-game thriller in 72 minutes, but it was the Englishwoman that took victory here.
Once again it went all the way, the only difference being that this clash came under the best-of-three format. Whitlock won the first game quite comfortably, allowing the reigning champion to take just three points.
However, the World No.18 came fighting back, taking the second game 11-5. She then took a six point lead in the third, but a spirited fight back from Whitlock saw her come back to win the third 11-8, booking her place in the last eight of the tournament.
“I stopped thinking after the first game, so I had to switch on and think again and I thought it was too late when it got to 7-1 [in the third]. I am just so happy and the fighting spirit is back!” Whitlock exclaimed.
“Last year I was a different player to what I am now. Physically I fell better, mentally I feel better and even if I had lost today, I was still to move freely and run after every ball. She is so athletic and fit so win or lose, I just wanted to enjoy my time and give it everything.
“I was really relaxed today, almost to relaxed, to the point where in the third I was 7-1 down. I was thinking that I was too flat but I like it here. Even though I came 2nd last year, I like the tournament and it is a nice city and I just want to stay a little bit longer.”
Result – Women’s Second Round: Open de France – Nantes
Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt  Nele Gilis (BEL) 2-1: 11-3, 5-11, 11-8 (37m)