Welshman Joel Makin is through to the final of the Open de France – Nantes after beating home favourite Gregoire Marche in front of a partisan crowd at the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne.
All was not as easy as it sounds though, as Marche took a 2-0 lead. The Frenchman, who had already knocked out the No.1 seed from the tournament earlier this week, got into a rhythm early, as was able to put the ball in the right places.
He took the first 11-8, before then controlling the second even more, winning it 11-6 to double his lead and put himself on the verge of victory.
However, the ‘Golden Tiger’ came roaring back into life, as he was able to get in front of Marche on court, and put the pressure on the Frenchman. As the match time ticked over the hour mark, Making took the third game to bring himself back into the match.
The Welshman then dominated the fourth game, bar a few mistakes, to send the match into a decider. In the end, the Welshman had too much for the home favourite, despite the backing of a partisan crowd.
Makin won the fifth 11-7 to seal victory after 95 minutes of brutal squash on the glass court, sending the handful of Welsh and Birmingham fans into raptures. He moves on to the final on Saturday evening.
“I am relieved to get through that one to be honest. I was passive and I got it wrong early on. I sat back too much, even though I knew what I wanted to do. I didn’t quite get it right and credit to him, he was moving unbelievably well,” Makin admitted.
“He was taking the ball in and taking his chances. Once it got to 2-0, I knew I needed to take him in and just work him. I had to try and stretch him out and he started to slow down. It was tough after that and it worked in the end.
“A few Birmingham guys and few Welsh guys, it is great that they came across. Everyone seems to enjoy Nantes. The crowd were rally behind him. The first few points were long and drawn out and he won a couple of them and they were right behind him, but you can’t let that make any difference.
“The atmosphere has been brilliant all week so I have enjoyed coming down and watching. Seeing your opponent for the next stage gives you a bit of a feel of how they are playing. We have all seen each other loads before but you get a feel for what they are doing this week.”
Result – Men’s Semi-Final: Open de France – Nantes
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt  Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-2: 8-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7 (95m)