Simpson wins all-English battle with Richards
By SEAN REUTHE
England’s Chris Simpson and Frenchman Gregoire Marche will go head-to-head in the final of the Men’s Open International de Squash de Nantes, PSA M25 tournament after they rose to respective wins against Tom Richards and Daryl Selby at the Cité Internationale des Congrès.
Simpson, the number two seed, faced off with Richards in a thrilling spectacle that saw both players bring a vocal crowd to their feet. With the scores level at 1-1 after the first two games, Simpson eventually managed to gain momentum and he took the third and fourth games without reply to wrap up an 11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 11-4 victory.
“Tom and I have been playing since we were nine or 10 years old. He’s one of my best mates, and when we play each other it’s always very close and very enjoyable,” said Simpson.
“I thought that match was no exception, it was a very high standard, very fair and very, very tough. He was on top, not just in the second game, but for most of the third as well.
“I got back on top by just fighting and trying to force myself to be positive at the end of the third because I knew he controlled the start of the second until two thirds of the way through the third game, so I had to change something.”
Defending champion Marche, meanwhile, managed a superb victory against top seed Daryl Selby after a scintillating performance from the World No.29 saw him win in straight games.
Marche capitalised on a slow start from the Englishman to go a game to the good, and put in a sensational display in the second to double his advantage, coming out on top of a series of exciting rallies.
The 26-year-old’s onslaught continued into the third as the man known as ‘The Acrobat’ dictated the tempo of the match and he made very few errors to blitz to the win by an 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 margin – claiming his first win over Selby in the process.
“That was maybe one of my best matches,” said Marche. “I think I played pretty well from the beginning to the end. I don’t know if he was 100 per cent today, but I did the job and I think I played my game. I was really focused and I had my game plan from [coach] Thierry Lincou.
“He gave me a lot of advice today and I’m really happy to win 3-0 like this because it means my level is improving. I have never beaten Daryl before, so it’s a great win.”
The Women’s final will see 18-year-old Egyptian Hana Ramadan take on England’s World No.98 Rachael Chadwick after they achieved respective wins over Laura Pomportes and Julianne Courtice.
Ramadan overcame a nervy start against Pomportes, who was cheered on by a raft of home supporters, to record an 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 victory in 33 minutes.
“I tried to focus more on my game plan and my shots,” Ramadan said. “They weren’t that deep at the beginning, so I had to regain focus, try to work things out and concentrate on court because I wasn’t at the beginning. Laura is a very good player, wining 3-0 against her is a great achievement, and all credit to her for making the game so challenging.”
Chadwick was pushed to four by Courtice in a highly entertaining battle that saw both players take two games apiece to set up a tense fifth game showdown.
Chadwick stormed into an early lead in the decider and fended off a late fightback from Courtice to move through to a second successive final after reaching the same stage at last month’s Legacy Wealth Belfast Open.
“It’s been a fantastic week, in front of a fantastic crowd,” said Chadwick.
“As ever, it was a huge 3-2 battle against Julianne. I know how hard she’s been training, I was expecting it to be tough, and it was. I think she played extremely well, hitting very hard and very solid. As for me, I was retrieving well, and I dug in well.”
2016 Open International de Squash de Nantes, Nantes, France.
– Men’s Semi-Final Results
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt  Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 (48m)
 Chris Simpson (ENG) bt  Tom Richards (ENG) 3-1: 11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 11-4 (51m)
2016 Open International de Squash de Nantes – Men’s Final Draw
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) v  Chris Simpson (ENG)
2016 Open International de Squash de Nantes – Women’s Semi-Final Results
 Hana Ramadan (EGY) bt  Laura Pomportes (FRA) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 (33m)
 Rachael Chadwick (ENG) bt [Q] Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-2: 10-12, 13-11, 14-12, 8-11, 11-8 (61m)
2016 Open International de Squash de Nantes – Women’s Final Draw
 Hana Ramadan (EGY) v  Rachael Chadwick (ENG)
Pictures by Philippe Rochais courtesy of PSA