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Rediff.com  » Sports » Wawrinka gets second time lucky in Chennai

Wawrinka gets second time lucky in Chennai

Last updated on: January 09, 2011 22:27 IST

Stanislas Wawrinka was not supposed to play at the Chennai Open this year.

However, following a change of schedule (and desire), the Swiss requested for and obtained a wild card for the event.

What more, he came in to Chennai four days in advance to begin his preparations for the same.

It proved to be a good decision in the final analysis.

A year after being ripped apart by Marin Cilic in the final, Wawrinka returned a stronger man. And having made it to the decider for the second year running, the third seed made sure on this occasion the trophy became his.

A 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 win over Belgian Xavier Malisse on Sunday ensured the Wawrinka his third ATP Tour title (in nine finals). It was also the Swiss player's first title on a surface other than clay – his first couple of titles coming at Umag and Casablanca.

"It was a perfect week," quipped the winner in the post-match conference, adding, "The first few matches were tough.

"However, I improved during the course of the week. The win today will give me a lot of confidence going into the Australian Open."

Wawrinka's win ensured twin success for Switzerland on the tour this week – with Roger Federer having won the title in Doha on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Malisse's loss further dented his record in ATP finals, the Belgian has now lost nine of his 12 title deciders.

WawrinkaIt was for the second time in the history of the tournament – after Ivan Ljubicic's win in 2006 – that a wild card went on to win the tournament.

It was also for the first time since 2005 – when Carlos Moya beat Paradorn Srichaphan for his second title – that the final in Chennai had gone the distance (three sets).

The match per se wasn't a cl-assic by any means. However, it was a competitive affair, at least for the first two sets.

Wawrinka started in the worst possible manner, dropping his opening service game. The break allowed Malisse to race to a 4-3 lead before the Swiss hit back in the eighth game, backhand pass down the line helping the latter break back.

The third seed used the momentum regained to his advantage, being more aggressive and putting his rival under increasing pressure. The move worked.

Serving to stay in the set (at 5-6 down), Malisse allowed Wawrinka as many as three opportunities to take the set. The Swiss, having frittered away the first two, capitalised on the third to pocket the set in just over an hour.

However the Belgian, seeded seventh and a winner at Chennai in 2007, came back strong in the second set. He secured an all important break in the third game, when Wawrinka netted a backhand, and didn't let go of that advantage throughout the remainder of the set (winning it 6-4).

So, it was all square after 103 minutes of entertaining, albeit erratic tennis. At least the crowd was getting their value for money till that point.

However, if they thought the third set will be an equally competitive affair, then they were in for a major disappointment.

For Malisse, having played so well till that point, started to tire in the decider.

Those ageing legs - the Belgian, at 30, isn't getting any younger – weren't willing to fight any more. And the body language clearly suggested the gruelling semi-final he had played a day earlier (with Janko Tipsarevic) had clearly taken its toll.

That was the leeway that Wawrinka required.

The Swiss broke in the second game and raced to a 3-0 lead. He had two opportunities to make it 4-0. However, Malisse saved the first of the break points with a magnificent forehand winner and the second with a big serve down the middle.

The reprieve was a brief one though. For Wawrinka had further opportunities to break Malisse in the sixth game. And on this occasion he didn't falter.

The Swiss served out the match in the next game, clinching the 134 minute encounte with a big smash down the middle.

Wawrinka received $ 68, 450 for winning the ATP Word Tour 250 event. Malisse won half that amount for his efforts during the week.

With the tournament getting a two-year extension, the 25-year-old Swiss will have ample of opportunity to add to his already impressive record in Chennai.

Bikash Mohapatra in Chennai