Wawrinka halts Malisse charge to clinch title

Paes-Bhupathi triumph in doubles final

Wawrinka halts Malisse charge to clinch title

Stanislas Wawrinka walked out on his wife less than a year after his marriage late last year citing his playing priorities. Whether he is paying a heavy price for putting his professional life ahead of his personal only time can tell.

For now, though, the Swiss number two (that’s not saying much because Roger Federer is the number one player) appears to be having no regrets with his decision as the 25-year-old hit it lucky the second time here at the Chennai Open.

Meanwhile, it was a perfect beginning to the coming together of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. The Indian Express gave some heart-stopping moments to capacity crowd before leaving them ecstatic with a 6-2, 6-7 (7-3), 10-7 win over Dutch-US pair of Robin Haase and David Martin for their fifth doubles title here. Paes-Bhupathi were richer by $22, 000 and 250 points while their rivals had to be content with $11,600 and 150 points.   

In his third visit to the city and in his second final in as many years, the third seed overcame a battling, but at times lackadaisical, Xavier Malisse to win the $4,50,000 event for only his third career ATP title at the Nungabakkam stadium on a packed Sunday. The 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 verdict made the 25-year-old garner $68,850 besides accruing 250 ranking points while Malisse earned $36,250 and 150 points.

The world number 21 couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. “Perfect way to start the season,” said a delighted Wawrinka after his victory.

The first game of the match gave an indication of things to come. Wawrinka saved four game points before Malisse clinched it after a close to a 10-minute battle. There was little to differentiate between the two as both of them maintained an aggressive approach; served well, hit their returns hard and deep and played out some riveting, long rallies worthy of a final. Malisse appeared to take away the first set when he opened up a 4-2 lead. Wawrinka, however, brought parity in the eighth when he converted two break points, finishing the game with a backhand down-the-line winner.

The loss of the advantage of the early break seemed to have played on Malisse’s mind even as Wawrinka began to pound his rival. Serving to stay in the set, the Belgian handed Wawrinka the break point netting his backhand return. Though Malisse managed to gain an advantage, Wawrinka eventually bagged the set after just over an hour’s struggle when his rival’s on-the-run forehand return found the net.     
    
Malisse regrouped in the second and broke Wawrinka in the third despite the latter holding a game point and 40-30. Having done the early running, the seventh seed slowed down the pace and Wawrinka played into his hands. For some strange reason, the Swiss didn’t push his opponent and paid the price for it as Malisse drew level at one set-all by holding on to his serves.

Having learnt his lesson, Wawrinka went for broke in the decider, establishing a 3-0 lead with a break of serve of in the second. Malisse, whose serve was beginning to give in, committed a crucial double fault at 30-40 to leave himself with a lot of catching up to do. Wawrinka, however, wouldn’t allow him a second wind.

The man with one of the best backhands in business broke Malisse again in the sixth game before serving out for the title.

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