Malisse Thrills Home Crowd In Brussels Opener

Tim EdwardsThomas Enqvist moves on to a semi-final clash against Mark Philippoussis.

It was an exciting opening day for the crowd at the David Lloyd Club on Thursday, as two Belgians faced off in Brussels to open the inaugural BNP Paribas Fortis Champions. In a fun, high-quality affair, Xavier Malisse ousted the player whom he partnered to the 2004 Roland Garros title, Olivier Rochus, 6-3, 7-5.

“It was fun, like always in Belgium and it was great. We played some good points and it was a fun court to play on with a good crowd for a Thursday afternoon,” Malisse said. “I had good rallies, good fun and [it was] just a good match.”

Malisse, who now has won two of his three professional matches against Rochus, has previously competed on the ATP Champions Tour. But his compatriot, Rochus, showed plenty of skill on debut to thrill the fans.

“He played great. He’s got a great touch, beautiful to watch, nice backhand and a real gifted guy,” Malisse said. “It’s always fun to play against Oli after all the time we spent together since we were 11, so all fun and good.”

Malisse advances to Friday’s semi-finals, in which he will face former World No. 1 Thomas Muster.

In Thursday’s other singles match, Swede Thomas Enqvist outclassed the always-entertaining Frenchman, Henri Leconte, 6-3, 6-4.

“It’s always a lot of fun to play Henri. He gets the crowd going and the crowd was great as well with a good turnout for the first day,” Enqvist said. “They’ve really put on a nice event. It’s the first year they’ve had it here and its very well organised and it has a lot of potential, so I’m looking forward to the next two days.”

Enqvist moves on to face Australian Mark Philippoussis for a place in the Brussels championship match. This showdown has plenty of promise, as the pair split their six FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings when they competed on the ATP World Tour.

Philippoussis and Muster also participated in a fun doubles exhibition to close out the day’s play.

Make sure to buy your tickets for Friday’s semi-final action. Malisse takes on Muster at 2:30 p.m., and Enqvist challenges Philippoussis not before 5:00 p.m.

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