The semi finals of the Open de France – Nantes 2019 presented by Tailor Capital take place today, with action beginning at 19:30 (GMT+2) at the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne as the eight players look to book their spots in the finals.
World No.3 and home favourite, Camille Serme, kicks things off tonight against 19-year-old No.5 seed Hania El Hammamy. The other women’s match will see No.2 seed Sarah-Jane Perry battle it out with No.3 seed Amanda Sobhy.
After his spectacular victory yesterday, New Zealand’s Paul Coll rounds off the night’s action against No.4 seed Zahed Salem. Before that, Frenchman Gregoire Marche will take on No.3 seed Joel Makin.
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Here’s the Order of Play
(All times are local – GMT+2)
The first match of the evening will pit home favourite, and World No.3, Camille Serme, against young Egyptian starlet Hania El Hammamy.
This will be the fourth time the two have met on the PSA World Tour, having faced off against each other in each of the last three seasons. The Frenchwoman has won all three previous meetings, with the 19-year-old only managing to take a single game off her in that spell, with that coming in their most recent match at the 2018 U.S. Open.
As the tournament’s No.1 seed, Serme has spent just 37 minutes on court to this point, having beaten both her opponents in straight games. After a first-round bye, the Frenchwoman defeated compatriot Coline Aumard in the second round, before then getting the better of England’s Millie Tomlinson in the quarter finals.
Meanwhile, El Hammamy has spent even less time on court, having won her two matches in 18 and 19 minutes, respectively. She overcame Lisa Aitken at La Maison du Squash in Round 2, before then knocking out No.4 seed Alison Waters at the Chateau in their quarter final clash on Wednesday night.
Both players will be fresh coming into this one, having spent so little time on court, and having had a rest day since their last eight clashes. Can ‘La Panthere’ thrill the home crowd, or will the Egyptian spoil the start of their evening?
The first men’s semi final sees another French player in action, as No.6 seed Gregoire Marche faces off against Welshman, and No.3 seed, Joel Makin for a place in Saturday’s final.
This will be the pair’s fifth match on the PSA World Tour, with both having claimed two victories over the other in the past. All four meetings have come within the past 18 months, with Marche winning the first two, while Makin has won the most recent couple of matches, including at the Grasshopper Cup in March.
Gregoire Marche has had a great week so far, at an event he loves. The Frenchman has won the title in Nantes three times, in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and he is in great form again this week. After defeating Nathan Lake at La Maison on Tuesday, Marche then knocked out the No.1 seed Simon Rösner in their quarter final clash on Wednesday.
The ‘Golden Tiger’ has spent 16 minutes more on court so far this week, after coming through a tough battle with Scotland’s Alan Clyne in his second round match. He then had to fight back from a game down to beat Egypt’s Fares Dessouky in the quarter final to reach the last four.
With the format now changing to best-of-five, will that favour Makin, who we know is used to playing long matches? Or can Marche send the partisan crowd into raptures by reaching the final in Nantes for a fourth time?
The second women’s semi-final pits the No.2 and No.3 seeds against each other, as Sarah-Jane Perry and Amanda Sobhy will do battle for a place in the final at the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne.
This will be their eighth clash on the PSA World Tour, with Sobhy currently holding a 4-3 advantage over the World No.7. Their last meeting came in October 2018, as Perry won in five at the Carol Weymuller Open. The duo have also faced each other in a semi-final before, with the Englishwoman winning in five again, this time at the Granite Open back in 2015.
The pair have had differing weeks so far, with Sobhy spending less than 40 minutes on court. She dispatched compatriot Haley Mendez in just 13 minutes in the second round, before battling another American in Olivia Blatchford Clyne in the quarters. She restricted her national team-mate to just eight points to move through to the semis.
Perry, on the other hand, has spent over an hour on court, having to win both matches 2-1 to reach the last four. She defeated South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller in Round 2, before then having to come back from the brink against compatriot Emily Whitlock in the quarters last night.
Both players are still on the upward rise as they return from injuries. Both women sit inside the World’s top eight, so it will be a close match. Can Perry use her height to her advantage, or can the left-handed Sobhy move through to the final?
The final match of the evening will see ‘Superman’ Paul Coll battle it out with Zahed Salem for a place in Saturday’s final in Nantes.
The pair have met four times on the PSA World Tour in the past, with the New Zealander having been successful in all four. Salem has only taken a game off the Kiwi in those clashes, with that coming in the qualifying finals of the Windy City Open back in 2016.
Both men have played five games in their two matches, with Salem having to fight hard in his second round clash against Youssef Ibrahim. He beat his compatriot in three before then overcoming former World No.1 James Willstrop on the glass court in their quarter final clash on Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, Coll got through a tricky test against England’s George Parker at La Maison on Tuesday, but he found it much tougher against home hope Mathieu Castagnet at the Chateau last night. The pair battled it out for over an hour, with Coll having to come from behind to book his spot in the last four.
Will Salem be fresher than the Kiwi, and if so, can he use it to his advantage tonight? Or will the best-of-five suit Coll, who is known for his fitness on court?