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Nantes Open: Day Two - As it Happens


Follow us here for reports and reaction from day two of the Men's Open International de Squash de Nantes, where title contenders Chris Simpson and Tom Richards get their tournaments under way.

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Here’s Today’s Order of Play
(All times are local GMT+2)
17:30 [5] Declan James (ENG) v [Q] Christophe Andre (FRA)
18:30 [WC] Geoffrey Demont (FRA) v [2] Chris Simpson (ENG)
21:00 [3] Tom Richards (ENG) v Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND)
22:00 Ben Coleman (ENG) v [6] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY)

James Ends Andre Charge to Reach Quarter-Finals

England’s Declan James put in an imposing performance to overcome French qualifier Christophe Andre in straight games to move into the last eight at the Cité Internationale des Congrès.

Andre, the World No.107, came through qualifying to progress to the main draw, beating the experienced Piedro Schweertman in the process, and fared well in the early stages in front of a vocal home crowd before James eventually pulled through to go a game ahead.

The second game was a one-sided affair as James dropped just two points on his way to victory, with Andre, sporting strapping on his right leg, appearing to struggle with his movement slightly.

Despite improving in the third with a series of fine winners, the Frenchman was unable to match the high intensity and immaculate width of James’s shots, with the World No.39 closing out an 11-6, 11-2, 11-7 victory to seal his place in the next round.

The second match of the day was also an England versus France affair as Harrogate-based World No.23 Chris Simpson found himself pitted against tournament wildcard Geoffrey Demont – with the former prevailing in straight games.

Appearing in front of his home spectators, Demont began the match in fine fettle, striding to a 5-1 lead in game one after a succession of superb finishes from all four corners of the court showcased the Frenchman’s technical prowess.

Second seed Simpson responded though by upping the pace and moved further up the court to take 10 of the next 11 points on offer, earning a one-game lead in the process.

The 29-year-old from Guernsey extended his strong spell into the second, going 9-5 up and fending off a late attempt at a comeback from Demont to double his advantage, before his intelligent shot selection allowed him to rattle off a number of points in the third to seal an 11-6, 11-8 11-7 triumph.

“I think I just tried to work on the process and playing good squash,” Simpson explained.

“Two things had happened to make me go 5-1 down, he played some unbelievable shots and I had hit the ball into the middle of the court. I just tried to work on my end and I knew that if he could carry on hitting those unbelievable shots then I was going to be quite surprised. No one can carry on at that rate, so I knew that level was going to drop at some point.”

Up next for Simpson is a meeting with compatriot and training partner Declan James, who also overcame French opposition, beating Christophe Andre to advance to the last eight.

Simpson won the last fixture between the two, which came back in May in the final of the IG Open de Paris, and he is gearing up for a stern test in the next round.

“Dec and I have trained a bit this summer, we played in the final of the last tournament we both played at the end of last season, so it’s going to be a tough match. He’s an improving player and I’m looking forward to it, it will be a good match.”

[2] Chris Simpson (ENG) bt [WC] Geoffrey Demont (FRA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 (32m)

Richards Holds Off Mangaonkar to Advance

World No.26 Tom Richards followed the lead of fellow Englishmen Chris Simpson and Declan James as he dispatched India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar in a deceptively tough encounter to reach the last eight.

The match began on an even keel, with a series of punishing, attritional rallies playing out in front of a packed crowd at the Cité Internationale des Congrès.

Richards experience paid off in the the first game as he rose to an 11-4 triumph, but Mangaonkar came out for the second game with renewed faith and some well structured rallies from the 22-year-old caused some severe problems for his opponent, enabling him to take a 7-2 lead.

The momentum soon shifted though as Richards came out on top of a particularly gruelling set of rallies, which were followed by a series of unforced errors from Mangaonkar.. The Englishman took full advantage and whittled down Mangaonkar’s lead to take nine of the next 11 points and go two games to the good.

Mangaonkar hung in well for the majority of the final game, but the World No.60 soon fell victim to Richards’ consistency, succumbing to an 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 defeat in Richards’ favour.

“I was trying to get a feel for the court, I felt pretty good, so I was trying to make it tough for him and put some miles into his legs,” recalled Richards.

“As the match progressed, I felt more and more comfortable on the court and I dominated the middle a little bit more than Mahesh. He likes to volley, as I do, and I think I slightly won that battle and that meant that I won the match.”

Referencing the support from the crowd, Richards added: “It really goes to show there’s a true passion here for squash. To come here and have so many people watching and appreciating squash is really great for us and we all love it.”

[3] Tom Richards (ENG) bt Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 3-0: 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 (45m)

Fathi Breaks English Dominance to Defeat Coleman

Egypt’s Karim Ali Fathi prevented a clean sweep from the Englishmen on day two after producing an assured display to beat World No.50 Ben Coleman and set up a last eight clash with Declan James.

Fathi dominated a physical opening game from the outset, surging to a 6-1 lead, and he held on to go a game ahead.

A marathon 24-minute second game then saw both players partake in a succession of punishing rallies, with only Fathi’s superiority at the front of the court enabling him to narrowly take it on the tie-break, and, after a neck-and-neck start to the third, Fathi soon pulled away to triumph by an 11-7, 13-11, 11-7 margin and seal a last eight berth.

“I think I played well, Ben is a great player, we’ve had battles throughout our careers,” said Fathi.

“Last time, I won 3-2 and it was brutal. He’s always been tough, he’s a solid English player. Every time the ball is loose around the middle, he takes it in and kills it.

“I had to get the ball to the back, keep the pressure on, keep the pace up and I was just hoping for the best to be honest.”

[6] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 13-11, 11-7 (59m)

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