Declan James and Belgium’s Nele Gilis are the 2018 Open International de
Squash de Nantes champions after they caused an upset on the final day
to defeat top seeds James Willstrop and Emily Whitlock, respectively,
inside the stunning Théâtre Graslin.
World No.23 James claimed his first ever win over former World No.1 and
Commonwealth Games doubles partner Willstrop in a dramatic 76-minute
final which saw the two towering players showcase their best squash in
front of a full audience.
Willstrop took a comfortable 1-0 cushion, before 25-year-old James
fought back to level the scores in the second. The momentum of the match
continued to constantly shift between the two Englishmen right up until
the last moment when, with the scores locked at 9-9 in the fifth, James
held his nerve to edge ahead and claim his biggest PSA title with a
2-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 11-9 victory.
with the Commonwealths earlier in the year with James, this is probably
the best moment of my career,” said the 25-year-old from Nottingham.
“I had a really good mentality before I went on and I just said to
myself that the result doesn’t matter, it’s just an occasion to enjoy
and as long as I leave everything on the court then I will be happy.
“I had to dig really deep, James was making me do so much work and was
unplayable at times, but I knew that would be the case because of how
much class he has got. I just had to dig in as much as I could.
“It all just happened really quickly in the end but it’s a really
special moment for me.”
in the women’s final, Belgium’s Gilis avenged last year’s final defeat
at the tournament as she dispatched 24-year-old top seed Whitlock in a
thrilling five-game final.
Gilis, who knocked out defending champion Fiona Moverley in the
semi-finals, showed incredible resilience and physicality to come from a
game down against Whitlock, to win her biggest PSA title.
England’s Whitlock didn’t put a foot wrong in the first game as she
claimed a comfortable 11-4 lead to take the first game. However, once
Gilis had settled her nerves she put the 24-year-old Englishwoman under
pressure and executed her game plan to perfection to take a 4-11, 11-6,
6-11, 12-10, 11-6 victory in 72 minutes.
“I really enjoyed the match and atmosphere was incredible,” said the
“I just told myself from the beginning to fight for each and every
point. I just wanted to make the most of my time here in this amazing
venue, so I just told myself to fight and not give up and I did - I’m so
Belgium’s World No.33
Nele Gilis recorded her first ever win over England’s World No.24 Fiona
Moverley to knock out the defending champion and reach her second
successive Open International de Squash de Nantes final.
Gilis had never beaten
Moverley before today, with their last meeting coming at the 2017 final
in Nantes, where the Englishwoman claimed a 3-0 victory. However, in
front of a full house at the théâtre Graslin, the 22-year-old Belgian
made sure to turn the tables as she dispatched Moverley by an 11-7,
11-9, 11-3 scoreline to send her crashing out at the semi-final stage.
“The last four times we
played she beat me,” said 22-year-old Gilis following her big win.
“I was quite relaxed
coming into the match and I knew what to expect. There was no pressure
on me, it was all on her, so I was just playing freely and enjoying my
squash and it helped me in the end.”
Belgian No.1 was the only non-English player to make it through to the
final in Nantes and will now face top seed Emily Whitlock (left) after
she defeated 18-year-old compatriot Lucy Turmel earlier in the day.
“I think we’re quite
similar,” said 24-year-old Whitlock. “Lucy is an attacking and ambitious
player and wants to do well.
“She showed no nerves in
her quarter-final match, so I was expecting her to be fully focused and
wanting to win in front of this crowd – I’m just glad I didn’t get
nervous and got the win.”
in the men’s draw, top seeds James Willstrop and Declan James will
prepare to do battle in Sunday’s final as they go head-to-head for the
title following respective wins over Egypt’s World No.31 Zahed Salem and
France’s World No.87 Baptiste Masotti.
Former World No.1
Willstrop – who will feature in his first final in 15 months - put in a
performance worthy of a showman along with Egyptian Salem as they
contested an enthralling five-game battle on stage at the Théâtre
The two players had the
packed-out crowd in raptures as they displayed some of their best squash
with the Englishman eventually prevailing an 11-6, 11-13, 9-11, 12-10,
11-5 winner in 78 minutes.
“We were both reaching
into every corner of the court and you could see what it did to both of
us,” said the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist. “Luckily in the
fifth I just edged ahead early on.
“The crowd here is great,
they give you so much back and it’s such a pleasure. They enjoy the
squash and that’s what I’m playing the game for right now, I love
occasions like that and I feel very happy that I am able to do it. The
real motivation is right in front of you with that crowd.”
and World No.23 James awaits Willstrop in the final after he knocked out
‘giant killer’ Masotti – who was the only remaining Frenchman in the
tournament – in straight-games to reach his biggest PSA final.
“I knew Baptiste had a
five-setter yesterday and he would possibly be feeling it, so I tried to
make it as tough as I could from the start and extend the rallies,” said
“He gave me a few errors
towards the end of each game, which helped, but I’m really happy with
how I pulled my performance together.
“Onto tomorrow, I have a
huge amount of admiration and respect for James. He is one of the
greatest players of our generation and in the history of the game.
“We had a great
partnership together at the Commonwealth Games and shared a special
partnership there, so tomorrow is really just an occasion to enjoy in
front of this wonderful crowd.”
The finals of the Open
International de Squash de Nantes will take place tomorrow (Sunday
September 9) from 15:15 local time (GMT +2) at the théâtre Graslin.
World No.87 Baptiste Masotti staged an emphatic comeback to defeat
Finland’s number eight seed Olli Tuominen to reach the semi-finals of
the Open International de Squash de Nantes and become the last remaining
Frenchman at the tournament.
Masotti was staring down
the barrel of defeat as he was 10-5 down in the fifth. However, the
23-year-old, roared on by the support of the partisan crowd who packed
out the Théâtre Graslin, managed to deny Tuominen the victory to take a
dramatic 11-9, 7-11, 7-11, 11-2, 12-10 victory and book his place in the
semi-finals of the PSA Challenger event.
“I didn’t feel like I
played really well but I just kept my plan,” said the Frenchman. “When I
was 10-5 down I just kept playing and the win is for my family – they
were watching me and this win is for them.
“I’m pretty sure at 10-5
down in the fifth in other venues not in France, I would lose 90% of the
time. But here, I’m in front of my crowd, I won and it’s great that they
are here cheering for me.”
Frenchman will face England’s Declan James for a place in the final
after he sensationally downed three-time champion Gregoire Marche in the
last match of the day.
The World No.23 played
with composure and accuracy to ensure that there would be a new men’s
champion at the tournament for the first time.
“It could have been a
semi-final or a final that match and really you just have to enjoy these
occasions when you are playing such great players,” said the
“That mindset allowed me
to stay composed and just focus on my squash. Gregoire is a multiple
champion here so I knew that he would play his best squash and that it
would be a really tough match. I thought all I had to do was go out
there and play as best as I can and that was important to me tonight.”
Meanwhile in the women’s
draw, defending champion Fiona Moverley kept her title defence alive
after she fought off Belgium’s World No.50 Tinne Gilis.
Moverley took the first
two games comfortably before a spirited comeback from Gilis threatened
to disrupt her rhythm. However, the Englishwoman was able to regain her
composure and utilise her experience to claim a 3-1 win against the
“I was looking to attack
and stay in front of her and then I don’t really know what happened in
the third,” said World No.24 Moverley. “I knew being 2-0 down her only
option was to come back at me and she did.
“In the end I managed to
turn it around and use my experience to get my basics back on track. I
had to be patient, find my length and it turned itself around. I think
she got a bit edgy and a few errors came in the end. I just stayed
positive and pushed through.”
The Englishwoman will now
face Tinne’s older sister, Nele Gilis, in the semi-finals in a repeat of
last year’s final, where Moverley took the title in straight-games.
World No.33 Gilis looked
in good form earlier in the day as she comfortably downed South Africa’s
World No.49 Alexandra Fuller in straight-games to reach the next round.
“I’ve been enjoying my
squash this week and for me that’s the main thing,” said the Belgian
after reaching her second successive semi-final in Nantes.
“It’s an incredible
venue. I told myself that I just wanted to enjoy myself and make the
most of this opportunity and I did. I’m so happy that I get to play here
The Open International de
Squash de Nantes reaches the semi-finals stage tomorrow (Saturday
September 8) with all matches taking place on the glass court at the
Théâtre Graslin. Matches begin at 17:15 local time (GMT +2).
World No.65 Lucy Turmel upset the seedings as she downed number three
seed Egypt’s Nadine Shahin under the lights of the 18th century théâtre
Graslin to reach the semi-finals of the Open International de Squash de
The 18-year-old – who is the youngest player at the tournament -
showcased a performance beyond her years as she continued her incredible
run in Nantes after defeating number five seed Milou van der Heijden in
the previous round.
Turmel is the only unseeded player left in the women’s draw, after she
played with confidence on the big stage to condemn World No.30 Shahin to
an 11-7, 11-13, 11-6, 11-9 defeat on the first day of quarter-final
“I’m really pleased with the result today,” said Turmel following her
“It was a tough match, so I’m really excited to be through to the semis.
I think playing a higher seeded player sometimes helps me because I
don’t really have the pressure on me. I was nervous today, but it was
great to play in this venue and I really enjoyed it.”
will now face top seed and World No.22 Emily Whitlock in an all-England
semi-final clash after she came from a game down to defeat compatriot
World No.48 Julianne Courtice in the quarter-finals.
"I’m just really happy that I managed to battle through that match,”
said 24-year-old Whitlock. “It’s a long summer break and you kind of
forget if you have that match battle toughness in you and I feel like I
“Lucy [Turmel] has been playing really well, but I’m going into the
match confident and I know if things aren’t going my way then I can
battle through like I did today.”
in the men’s draw, England’s former World No.1 James Willstrop continued
the strong English contingent advancing to the semi-finals after he put
on a masterclass performance to dispatch France’s World No.35 Lucas
Serme in straight-games in front of his home crowd.
Willstrop put aside the tiredness that had affected his performance in
the previous round as the 35-year-old hit his targets with pinpoint
accuracy to leave Serme without reply and move a step closer to the
“I think my match last night did me a lot of good, I came out and I was
pretty sharp. I played on the court, which Lucas hadn’t done, and that’s
an advantage for me, it just worked well for me today.
“The atmosphere is amazing. The reason I played this event was because I
had heard how good it was from all the players and the standard of the
event is so high. It’s great to experience a new city and a new venue
with people really pushing the sport out and progressing the game.”
will now face Egypt’s Zahed Salem for a place in the final after the
World No.31 came from 2-0 down to defeat England’s George Parker.
22-year-old Parker took the lengthy first game, which lasted 27 minutes
before doubling his advantage in the second after Salem was forced to
take an injury break.
However, the Egyptian World No.31 battled back to disrupt Parker’s focus
and take what proved to be a pivotal third game as he won 13-15, 8-11,
11-4, 11-6, 11-8 in 95-minutes.
“I can’t describe how happy I am to win after being 2-0 down,” said the
26-year-old Egyptian following his match.
“I haven’t played George before, but I knew he was going to be dangerous
and that it would be a tough match. I expected that it would go to five,
there were a few decisions and then the injury caused me to lose a bit
of concentration, but I knew I had to give it my best and make myself
proud and in the end, I did that.”
World No.87 Baptiste Masotti stunned New Zealand’s number six seed
Campbell Grayson in round two of the Open International de Squash de
Nantes as he booked his place in the quarter-finals of the tournament
for the first time.
Masotti – who is the only unseeded player left in the men’s draw -
caused a huge upset at Le Maison du Squash to knock out World No.37
Grayson – who along with the other top eight seeds received a bye into
the second round - by an 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 scoreline.
The Frenchman will now face Finland’s Olli Tuominen, who defeated French
wildcard Christophe Andre earlier in the day, in the next round at the
stunning théâtre Graslin.
“I was very focused because I wanted to win this match to be able to get
on the glass court,” said the 23-year-old Frenchman following his win.
“This is my second win over a player in the top 40 and I hope I can
continue playing like this and play a lot of matches here.
“My home town is about a one-hour drive away from here and my father
came to watch me play. It feels so good to win, this tournament is
really nice and I love being able to play in France.”
In the women’s draw, 18-year-old Lucy Turmel also upset the seedings to
become the only unseeded women’s player left in the tournament, after
she defeated Netherland’s number five seed Milou van der Heijden in
The young Englishwoman will now take on Egypt’s World No.30 Nadine
Shahin for a place in the semi-finals of the PSA Challenger Tour event.
“Last time I played Milou I lost 3-1, so I knew it was going to be
tough. I knew I had to be confident going into it and it was a hard
match even though it was 3-0.”
Over on the glass court at the picturesque 18th century théâtre Graslin,
top seeds James Willstrop and Emily Whitlock, along with defending
champions Gregoire Marche and Fiona Moverley all secured berths into the
former World No.1 Willstrop avoided a scare against compatriot Patrick
Rooney as, after building up a solid 2-0 lead, the top seed appeared to
suffer with tiredness and in the end narrowly edged past his younger
opponent in front of a packed-out house in Nantes.
“Patrick is too good, and I can’t be off my game really,” said Willstrop
following his tough tournament opener.
“He played really well, he worked me so hard and took me to the point
where I was exhausted. I’m lucky to win that game because if he had of
taken me to a fifth then I don’t think I’d have gone through.
“It’s an outstanding venue and we are very lucky to be able to play
here. I have a little bit of an invested interest in it because I love
the stage and live theatre, so this habitat is even more exciting for me
and that’s why I was so desperate to win today.”
Meanwhile, defending men’s champion Gregoire Marche continued his
unbeaten run at the tournament after he conquered compatriot Auguste
Dussourd under the lights of the théâtre Graslin.
“Nantes has always been a great venue for me and I think this year it is
the most beautiful,” said the 28-year-old Frenchman.
“I remember the first year – it was something great – but every year
they keep pushing to make it better. I can’t miss this tournament, it is
one of my favourites.”
While in the women’s draw, English duo Whitlock and Moverley saw off
Scotland’s Lisa Aitken and South Africa’s Milnay Louw, respectively, in
Wildcard and World No.209
Christophe Andre overcame Belgium’s World No.144 Joeri Hapers to reach
the second round of the Open International de Squash de Nantes on the
opening day of action.
Andre played better than
his World Ranking suggests as he powered past Belgian Hapers at le
Maison du Squash by an 11-4, 12-10, 11-7 scoreline in 36 minutes and
will now face Finland’s number seven seed Olli Tuominen – who along with
the other top eight seeds on the men’s and women’s draws received a bye
into round two - for a place in the quarter-finals.
The Frenchman will be
joined by compatriots Sebastien Bonmalais, Baptiste Masotti (left) and Auguste
Dussourd (below) after they all prevailed in their respective round one clashes
to complete a successful first round in the men’s draw for the home
Meanwhile, Chloe Mesic
will be the only Frenchwoman in the second round after
her fellow countrywomen wildcards Julia Le Coq and Marie Stephan fell to
England’s Kace Bartley and South Africa’s Milnay Louw, respectively, in
World No.89 Mesic produced a dominant display to defeat
Finland’s World No.115 Riina Koskinen
in straight-games in just twenty minutes in the opening round and will
now face South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller on the second day of action.
“I just tried to play my game and put some
pressure on her and not let her create anything,” said the 27-year-old
following her victory.
“I know Alexandra
[Fuller] is a really good attacking player. I know her game and I like
her style, so I’m sure it will be a good match.
“I love to play at
this tournament, it’s amazing. It’s a huge event in this country and
it’s fantastic for squash to have this event in France and hopefully it
will keep growing.”
Elsewhere in the
opening round, England’s Patrick Rooney and Scotland’s Lisa Aitken set
up respective clashes with top seeds James Willstrop and Emily Whitlock.
World No.103 Rooney comfortably defeated France’s
in straight-games in the opening round, while Aitken saw off Egyptian
Hana Ramadan by a 12-10, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 scoreline to ensure
both players would get to play at the stunning setting of the théâtre
“It’s a tournament
that I’ve always seen on the calendar and the atmosphere always looks
great, so it’s sort of been a bucket-list tournament,” said Scotland’s
“I get a chance on the
glass court now, which is what we train for, those occasions where there
is a massive crowd. The pressure isn’t on me and I just want to have a
good shot at it and enjoy the occasion.”
Gregoire Marche and Fiona Moverley will face Dussourd and Louw,
respectively, at the stunning théâtre Graslin in the city of Nantes as
they both look to get their tournaments off to a winning start.
World No.24 Fiona Moverley is looking forward to heading back to Nantes
to defend her title when the Open International de Squash de Nantes
takes place between September 4-9.
Held at the stunning Théâtre Graslin, the Open International de Squash
de Nantes will be the first PSA Challenger Tour event ever to be
broadcast on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player and Moverley – who defeated
Belgium’s Nele Gilis in last year’s final - is targeting a defence of
her crown in France.
“I can't wait to go back this year,” said the 31-year-old.
“It's my first tournament of the new season so I'm really looking
forward to kick it off with Nantes. It's a great place to visit and
everyone at the tournament really looks after you.
“Last year was amazing.
It was the biggest title of my career which made it even more special. I
had the perfect tournament and couldn't have asked for a better result.
To win in that fantastic outdoor venue in front of such a big crowd was
“I don't think there's
any more pressure than last time except for the pressure I put on
myself. The tournament has grown in size which is great for the Tour,
but it also means it's potentially even stronger than last year, so it
will be a huge challenge to win it again, however, that doesn't mean I
won't be trying to.”
One of the key goals of the Open International de Squash de Nantes is to
showcase the city of Nantes with the tournament taking place in some of
the most eye-catching locations in the city in previous years, including
Les machines de l'île and the Cité Internationale des Congrès and
Moverley can’t wait to play in this year’s stunning venue – the Théâtre
“The venue last year was pretty special; the atmosphere was amazing. It
will be different at an indoor venue but the pictures I’ve seen look
amazing and I'm sure the crowd will be equally as fantastic. Hopefully I
can get them on my side cheering for me too.”
For many of the players competing this tournament will represent their
first of the 2018/19 season and Moverley insisted that she feels in good
form heading into the new season.
“I feel excited to be
starting a new season. My off season has been good, and I feel in great
shape and I’m confident I’m ready for the season ahead.
“Summer training can be
quite long, and you miss competing so I’m itching to get back out on
The Open International
de Nantes features both a 24-player men’s draw and a 24-player women’s
draw with the top eight seeds - Moverley included - receiving a bye into
the second round.
The World No.24 will get
her tournament under way against either wildcard France’s Marie Stephan
or South Africa’s Milnay Louw, while the women’s draw also contains the
likes of England’s Emily Whitlock, Belgium’s Nele Gilis and Egypt’s
$46,000 worth of prize
money will be split between the men’s and women’s tournaments, with the
men’s tournament headed up by England’s former World No.1 James
Willstrop. Matches will be split between the glass court staged at the
Théâtre Graslin and the traditional courts based at La Maison du Squash.
The Open International
de Nantes will be the first tournament of the 2018/19 season to be shown
on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only), with
matches at the Théâtre Graslin broadcast live.
The 2018 edition of the Open International de Squash de Nantes
will play host to its strongest ever line-up between September
4-9 when former World No.1 James Willstrop and compatriot Emily
Whitlock headline the men’s and women’s draws respectively at
the spectacular setting of Théâtre Graslin.
the current World No.17, won a Commonwealth Games gold medal on
Australia’s Gold Coast in April and the Yorkshireman is one of
the star names in the men’s PSA Challenger Tour 30 draw, which
also includes home favourites Gregoire Marche and Mathieu
Marche has won all three previous editions of the Open
International de Nantes and defeated Switzerland’s Nicolas
Mueller in last year’s final, winning a dramatic encounter 3-2
at Les Machines de l’île. The tournament has been held at some
of the most picturesque locations in Nantes, with Marche also
taking the honours at the Lieu Unique and the Cité
Internationale des Congrès in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
No.22 Whitlock is the top seed for the women’s PSA Challenger
Tour 20 event and will contest a tournament that contains eight
of the world’s top 50 players, including defending champion and
fellow Englishwoman Fiona Moverley, who beat World No.34 Nele
Gilis in the 2017 final.
Matches will be split between the glass court staged at Théâtre
Graslin and the traditional courts based at La Maison du
The Open International de Nantes will be the first PSA
Challenger Tour event to be broadcast on SQUASHTV (Rest of
World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only), with action from the
glass court shown live.
Tickets start from €9 and can be purchased from the Open
International de Squash de Nantes website.
For more information on the tournament, visit the Open
International de Squash de Nantes Facebook page.
Men’s – Entry List 1) James Willstrop (ENG)
2) Declan James (ENG)
3) Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
4) Zahed Mohamed (EGY)
5) Gregoire Marche (FRA)
6) Lucas Serme (FRA)
7) Campbell Grayson (NZL)
8) George Parker (ENG)
9) Olli Tuominen (FIN)
10) Mazen Gamal (EGY)
11) Auguste Dussourd (FRA)
12) Shehab Essam (EGY)
13) Bernat Jaume (ESP)
14) Charlie Lee (ENG)
15) Baptiste Masotti (FRA)
16) Ammar Altamimi (KUW)
17) Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA)
18) Patrick Rooney (ENG)
19) David Baillargeon (CAN)
20) Carlos Cornes Ribadas (ESP)
21) Jaymie Haycocks (ENG)
22) Aqeel Rehman (AUT)
Wildcard) Benjamin Aubert (FRA)
Wildcard) Vincent Droesbeke (FRA)
Women’s – Entry List 1) Emily Whitlock (ENG)
2) Fiona Moverley (ENG)
3) Nadine Shahin (EGY)
4) Nele Gilis (BEL)
5) Milou van der Heijden (NED)
6) Julianne Courtice (ENG)
7) Alexandra Fuller (RSA)
8) Tinne Gilis (BEL)
9) Lucy Turmel (ENG)
10) Lisa Aitken (SCO)
11) Ineta Mackevica (LAT)
12) Rachael Chadwick (ENG)
13) Alison Thomson (ENG)
14) Milnay Louw (RSA)
15) Kace Bartley (ENG)
16) Chloe Mesic (FRA)
17) Cristina Gomez (ESP)
18) Hana Ramadan (EGY)
19) Cindy Merlo (SUI)
20) Jasmine Hutton (ENG)
21) Ali Hemingway (WAL)
22) Riina Koskinen (FIN)
Wildcard) Marie Stephan (FRA)
Wildcard) Julia Le Coq (FRA)