Two in a row for home hero Gregoire
By SEAN REUTHE
Frenchman Gregoire Marche and Egyptian teenager Hana Ramadan took the honours at the 2016 Open International de Squash de Nantes after they rose to final wins over English duo Chris Simpson and Rachael Chadwick, respectively, at the Cité Internationale des Congrès.
Defending champion Marche, who defeated Finland’s Henrik Mustonen to win last year’s title, was in brilliant form throughout a week of top-class action at the PSA M25 event and put Richie Fallows, Olli Tuominen and top seed Daryl Selby to the sword to ensure that he would be pitted against World No.23 Simpson in the final.
It was free-flowing squash from the outset, with Marche’s superb retrieval abilities evident as he built up a one-game lead, before an improved Simpson levelled in the second. The majority of the third game was neck and neck, with Marche eventually pulling away to restore his advantage, and the Frenchman rode the wave of fervent home support in the fourth and final game to seal an 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-2 victory – with a superb cross court nick at championship ball greeted by an almighty roar from the crowd.
“Today, I felt really good from the beginning,” said Marche.
“I found my length first, kept the same rhythm and I was in front of him all match. I was a bit nervous in the second game, and I think, maybe one or two years ago, I wouldn’t be able to keep the same concentration like I did today.
“I’ve worked on this a lot since last year, so today I’m really happy. It’s my biggest title on the Tour, so it’s a great day. Everything worked, the crowd was a big part of the story here in Nantes as well.”
Meanwhile, Ramadan and Chadwick also served up an entertaining fixture in the inaugural Women’s final, with points ebbing and flowing between the pair before Ramadan took a one-game lead on the tie-break.
Alexandria-born Ramadan put in an immaculate display in the second game, doubling her advantage for the loss of four points, but Chadwick came out fighting in the third and varied the length and pace of her shots to storm to victory and halve the deficit. Ramadan was soon back in the driving seat though and she closed out the fourth to record a 12-10, 11-4, 2-11, 11-9 triumph to capture her third PSA World Tour title.
“The atmosphere was amazing, everyone was very loud, very cheerful, and I had the pressure of not disappointing them and I also wanted to perform my best,” said Ramadan.
“It was pretty exciting for me, but there was also a lot of pressure. I wanted to do my best, but I also lost my focus, which was a bit disappointing for me.
“I got a bit distracted [in the third] I felt like I was very close to winning and I lost my concentration. She was attacking and she was going for all the volleys and all the winning shots and I was standing at the back, which was very negative.”
2016 Open International de Squash de Nantes, Nantes, France.
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt  Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-2 (76m)
 Hana Ramadan (EGY) bt  Rachael Chadwick (ENG) 3-1: 12-10, 11-4, 2-11, 11-9 (35m)
Pictures by Philippe Rochais courtesy of PSA