Malisse Masters Philippoussis, Triumphs In Brussels

Tim EdwardsXavier Malisse overcomes an early deficit to defeat Mark Philippoussis for the title in Brussels.

It is only fitting that the inaugural BNP Paribas Fortis Champions in Brussels was won by a Belgian.

Xavier Malisse overcame the heat and a game opponent, Mark Philippoussis, defeating the Aussie 6-7(5), 6-4, 10-8 to lift the title at the David Lloyd Club on Saturday.

“It was a fun match, actually. It was pretty competitive. I think it’s the most competitive match I’ve actually had on the [ATP] Champions Tour,” Malisse said. “It was great. I thought I was going to lose because he was 6-0 up in the tie-break and made a couple of mistakes. But I think overall we played a great match and [provided] good entertainment for the crowd.”

The 37-year-old might have dropped the tough opening set, but that did not set him back for long. Malisse earned the lone break of the match in the second set and then overcame a daunting deficit in the Match Tie-break to triumph.

Philippoussis defeated Malisse 19 years ago at Wimbledon on the grass of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. But the Belgian got his revenge in front of a supportive crowd in Brussels.

“You turn around a lot because it’s a lot of aces, but he is playing great. He hit some big forehands, big backhands down the line and it’s just beautiful to watch,” Malisse said. “He still has beautiful strokes, beautiful touch at the net with the volley. It was a lot of fun playing him.”

And if that was not thrilling enough, former World No. 1 John McEnroe was also in action. The American partnered Kim Clijsters in a mixed doubles exhibition, taking down Henri Leconte and Dominique Monami 6-2, 6-3. The ATP Champions Tour's next stop will be in Scotland from 22-23 June, as the stars take to the Gleneagles Hotel for the Brodies Invitational. 

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