Open International de Squash de Nantes: Day of Disappointment for French Hopefuls
By SEAN REUTHE
Spectators at Les Machines de l’île witnessed defeats for two French players on day three of the 2017 Open International de Squash de Nantes as men’s World No.26 Mathieu Castagnet and women’s World No.26 Coline Aumard bowed out of the PSA M25 and PSA W15 tournaments, respectively, in France.
French No.3 Castagnet lost out to England’s World No.54 Ben Coleman in his quarter-final fixture after he was forced to retire due to injury in the fourth game.
The 30-year-old has struggled with an adductor injury for the majority of 2017 and some mammoth rallies seemed to take their toll as he shook hands midway through the fourth to hand Coleman an 5-11, 11-8, 11-9, 7-4 victory.
“He’s someone over the last four or five years that I’ve looked up to in the game, I love the way he plays the game,” said Coleman.
“He’s been right to the very top, an incredible athlete who deserves everything that he’s done and I hope that he can get fit and get back to the top. It was sad to end like that and I genuinely wish him all the best.
“I’m loving my week here, the support has been amazing. I appreciate the crowd were probably more on Mathieu’s side but they have been incredible and I’m looking forward to getting back on court tomorrow.”
Coleman will appear in his biggest ever semi-final against Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller after he overcame Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi by an 11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 11-4 margin.
The match began evenly as a number of quick-fire encounters captivated the spectators at Les Machines de l’île but Mueller soon pulled away from 4-4 to open up a one-game lead, in part thanks to the effectiveness of his forehand volley drops, with four of his last five points being won on that side.
Mueller continued to squeeze errors out of his opponent in the second but errors soon began to come from the racket of the Swiss player in the third as Al Tamimi picked up the pace and utilised his impressive retrieval skills to claw a game back. Mueller reinserted himself on proceedings though in the fourth to close it out 11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 11-4.
“Last year, I couldn’t play, I was injured but I was in front of SQUASHTV and looking at the atmosphere and the MC jumping around made it extremely enjoyable and I couldn’t wait to come this time round,” said Mueller.
“The court conditions were very cold, which suited both of our games. But today I felt my length was better than his and he was behind me most of the time, except in the third, where I let him back in, which was stupid and dangerous.
“I hate playing players that are more talented than me and there are more and more of those unfortunately. His racket skills are second to none and it feels good to win against such a player.”
Meanwhile, Canada’s Hollie Naughton brought an end to Aumard’s tournament after she fought back from three match balls down to beat the number three seed and end French interest in the women’s draw.
The World No.38 started impressively as she powered to a two-game lead. Aumard finally found her range in the third and fourth games to draw level but couldn’t make the most of multiple match balls in the fifth as Naughton came back to win it 11-3, 11-5, 6-11, 4-11, 12-10.
“Coline is a tough opponent and I know that she never gives up,” said Naughton.
“It’s amazing here, this is a massive crowd so it’s really special to play in front of them. Hopefully tomorrow they will be cheering for me but it was great.”
Naughton will take on England’s Fiona Moverley for a place on the showpiece finale after she dispatched Japan’s Misaki Kobayashi by a 3-1 margin.
Moverley cruised to a two-game lead and, after Kobayashi fought back in the third to halve the deficit, the World No.24 held her nerve in the fourth to earn her place in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
“I really like playing on the glass, the court is really nice,” Moverley said.
“The court’s great, the atmosphere’s great and the crowd are really good so it’s been really good.”
The Open International de Squash de Nantes continues with the semi-finals on September 9 and all of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
Results – Quarter Finals (Bottom Half): 2017 Men’s Open International de Squash de Nantes
 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt  Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-1: 11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 11-4 (44m)
Ben Coleman (ENG) bt  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 5-11, 11-8, 11-9, 7-4 ret. (53m)
Draw – Men’s Semi-Finals: To Be Played September 9th
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) v  Mazen Hesham (EGY)
 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
Results – Quarter Finals (Bottom Half): 2017 Women’s Open International de Squash de Nantes
 Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt  Coline Aumard (FRA) 11-3, 11-5, 6-11, 4-11, 12-10 (62m)
 Fiona Moverley (ENG) bt  Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) 3-1: 11-2, 11-7, 11-13, 13-11 (40m)
Draw – Women’s Semi-Finals: To Be Played September 9th
 Millie Tomlinson (ENG) v  Nele Gilis (BEL)
 Hollie Naughton (CAN) v  Fiona Moverley (ENG)
Pictures courtesy of Hamish Irvine / PSA