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Malisse wins Chennai Open

Last updated on: January 07, 2007 20:58 IST

Belgium's Xavier Malisse captured his second career title as he beat Stefan Koubek of Austria in straight sets in the final of the Chennai Open on Sunday.

Malisse, who had upset title favourite Rafael Nadal in the semi-final, kept up the tempo to romp to a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Koubek in 61 minutes.

"Beating the number two in the world gave me a lot of confidence, but you always have to watch out," said Malisse. "There have been times when I have played an excellent match and then followed it up with not so good tennis so I guess I have matured in that way."

The Belgian, world number 37, outclassed Koubek on his tournament debut in one of the shortest final (in number of games) in Chennai. He equalled Paradorn Srichaphan's record of a 6-3, 6-1 win over Karol Kucera in the 2003 final to pocket 175 ranking points and US $ 65,850.

Koubek, beating three seeded players en route to the final, held his serve for the first time in the match in the second game of the second set. The left-handed Koubek could not match the smacking groundstrokes of the 26-year-old Belgian.

"I tried to play my tennis but it didn't work out. Whatever I tried to do, hit the ball higher or drop the pace he just had a better answer to everything," Koubek said.

Malisse raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set, and though Koubek put a toe in the door by breaking the Belgian in the fourth game a let cord set up the break point for Koubek and a forehand error from Malisse helped him get on the board.

But the temperamental Belgian was in no mood to give up on the final day after being made to work hard through the week. He won four straight games and took an early 4-1 lead in the second set by breaking Koubek in the fourth game.

The only opportunity for the Austrian came in the last game of the set, when Malisse served for the match at 5-3.

A forehand into the net gave Koubek his first chance to break in the second set, but Malisse got out of the hole with a backhand drop volley.

Malisse saved another breakpoint before wrapping up the match when Koubek could not return a flashing down the line from the Belgian.

"I was pretty nervous serving for the match; it's only human especially when you have won just one out of nine finals," he said.

Like on Saturday, the Belgian kept the pressure on the opponent with his solid serves. He won 70 per cent of his serve points, as opposed to 45 per cent by Koubek.

Koubek, who gave a dominant performance against Moya, looked completely out of touch and had a lot of errors on his forehand to end a fantastic week on a sour note.

Malisse will later play the doubles final with Dick Norman against the Spanish spice boys Nadal and Bartolome Salva-Vidal.

Deepti Patwardhan in Chennai