TENNIS / Defeats Xavier Malisse in three sets in the final
Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka bore away the bell with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 win over Belgian Xavier Malisse in the final of the Chennai Open tennis here on Sunday.
The World No. 21 picked up his third Tour title, displaying in patches the same form that saw him account for top-seeded Tomas Berdych in the semifinal. The 25-year-old, thus, was second time lucky, having lost the 2010 Chennai Open final to Croatian Marin Cilic.
Wawrinka also became the first wild card since Ivan Ljubicic, in 2006, to triumph in Chennai.
“Malisse was playing really well. It was a good fight. But in the second set he started to tire and I became more aggressive. This is a good win for me just before the Australian Open,” Wawrinka said later, after receiving the $68,850 winner's cheque.
Malisse, the 2007 champion, caved in after taking the match to a decider, and attributed the decrease in intensity to tired legs. The match lasted two hours and 14 minutes.
“It was tough for me to play three long sets. I made some shots, I missed some shots… that's tennis. I'm just happy I played good aggressive tennis through the tournament,” said the 30-year-old, who next competes in the Auckland Open.
The final started inauspiciously for Wawrinka. He was broken in the first game of the opening set, but returned the favour in the eighth game — the break coming about as Malisse's error count soared. Serving for survival at 5-6, the Belgian saved two set-points before a tepid backhand into the net saw him a set in arrears.
The second set was an aberration for Wawrinka. Malisse broke him in the third game and held himself together to enforce a decider. But what followed was a surprise — a pleasant one for the Swiss. He pulled up his first-serve percentage to 76 (from a middling 54 and 58 in the first two sets) and ensured his holds.
Breaks of the Malisse serve, in the second and sixth game, set up Wawrinka nicely at 5-1. Serving for the title, he converted his second match-point, cracking an overhead forehead behind and beyond a net-seeking Malisse.
The result: Singles: Final: Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui) bt Xavier Malisse (Bel) 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 .