Top Seeds Seal Semis Spots on day two of Open International de Squash de Nantes
By SEAN REUTHE – PSA World Tour
Top seeds Gregoire Marche and Millie Tomlinson prevailed on day two of the 2017 Open International de Squash de Nantes to earn their places in the semi-finals of the men’s and women’s events, respectively, in Les Machines de l’île.
Marche, the 2015 and 2016 champion, moved to within one win of a third successive final in Nantes after the World No.23 overcame Chris Simpson in a repeat of last year’s final, beating the Englishman 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 in 46 minutes.
“I wasn’t really the same way as yesterday, I was really focused from the start,” said Marche, who recovered from a game down to beat Mazen Gamal in round one.
“I know Chris has had a tough year and it’s not easy for him, I know he’s not 100 per cent yet. It’s not easy to play a good friend, I had to do my best and I’m happy because I stayed focused throughout the whole match and I think I played the game I wanted. It’s a good 3-0 today.
“I love the crowd here, it feels like home and I love this court. There’s maybe something special here, I want to keep going like this and I have a good day off tomorrow to get ready for Saturday.”
Marche will line up against Egypt’s Mazen Hesham in the last four after the World No.70 defeated Finnish veteran Olli Tuominen 3-1.
Hesham, a former World No.13 ,had been a regular Shot of the Month contender before a host of injuries over the last two years saw him tumble down the World Rankings but he was in full flow against Tuominen as he hit a series of outrageous winners to storm into a 2-0 lead.
A loss of consistency in the third game saw Tuominen come back to halve the deficit but Hesham responded by simplifying his game plan and playing the percentage shots and he was duly rewarded with a victory in the fourth to take it 11-6, 11-4, 10-12, 11-7.
“I’m just delighted to be playing, you can see how much I enjoyed it,” said number three seed Hesham.
“I was excited about my shots and keeping the crowd entertained as well, it’s what I play for. I’m so happy to be here and playing and to be in the semi-finals of the first tournament of the season.
“It would mean a lot to reach the final, it’s been almost two years that I have played regularly on the Tour, so to end this tournament by reaching the final would be the greatest feeling.”
Tomlinson will meet fourth seed Nele Gilis in the semi-finals of the women’s event after they claimed respective wins over qualifying duo Sivasangari Subramaniam and Nouran El Torky.
Tomlinson was almost on the end of a shock defeat after going two games down to Malaysia’s Subramaniam, who played with a maturity beyond her 18 years.
The World No.22 eventually found her range in the third though and a determined response saw her ease to victory before following that up by edging the fourth and fifth games to seal an 6-11, 6-11, 11-1, 11-9, 11-9 triumph.
“I started slowly again like I did in the first round, it seems to be a theme this season so I will try to get over that going into the next round,” said Tomlinson.
“I watched a few clips of her before so I knew she was a good player and I expected her to be tricky and fast.
“It was amazing to play on the glass court. I think it’s the best atmosphere I’ve ever played in so it’s really cool with the crowd.”
Gilis, meanwhile was in complete control for the majority of her match against El Torky, claiming comfortable wins in the first and third games either side of a tight tie-break triumph in the second as she claimed an 11-6, 12-10, 11-5 victory.
“I’m very happy,” Gilis said.
“I didn’t come into this tournament with any expectations because it’s the first tournament of the season. I just try to enjoy and focus on my own game and see where it takes me.”
The Open International de Squash de Nantes continues with the second day of quarter-final action on September 8 and it will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
Results – Quarter Finals (Top Half) : 2017 Men’s Open International de Squash de Nantes
 Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 3-1: 11-6, 11-4, 10-12, 11-7 (39m)
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt  Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 (46m)
Draw – Men’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): To Be Played September 8th
 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v  Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
Ben Coleman (ENG) v  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
Draw – Men’s Semi-Finals (Top Half): To Be Played September 9th
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) v  Mazen Hesham (EGY)
 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) or  Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) v Ben Coleman (ENG) or  Mathieu Castagnet
Results – Quarter Finals (Top Half): 2017 Women’s Open International de Squash de Nantes
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt [Q] Nouran El Torky (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 12-10, 11-5 (35m)
 Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt [Q] Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) 3-2: 6-11, 6-11, 11-1, 11-9, 11-9 (51m)
Draw – Women’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): To Be Played September 8th
 Coline Aumard (FRA) v  Hollie Naughton (CAN)
 Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt  Fiona Moverley (ENG)
Draw – Women’s Semi-Finals (Top Half): To Be Played September 9th
 Millie Tomlinson (ENG) v  Nele Gilis (BEL)
 Coline Aumard (FRA) or  Hollie Naughton (CAN) v  Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) or  Fiona Moverley (ENG)
Pictures courtesy Hamish Irvine / PSA