Re: ATP Finals
A year on from finishing runner-up in the Aircel Chennai Open final, World No.21 Stanislas Wawrinka went one better as he won his third ATP World Tour title with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 victory over 2007 champion Xavier Malisse on Sunday.
As victor of the ATP World Tour 250 hard-court tennis tournament, Wawrinka received 250 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points and $68,450 in prize money. It was his first victory at a hard-court tournament, with his two previous titles coming on clay in Umag (2006) and Casablanca (2010).
"I'm more than happy, it was a perfect week,” declared Wawrinka. “I improved my game day after day and finished with a great match. It's amazing to have the trophy today. It's a perfect start to the year. I have one week to be ready for the Australian Open and this will give me a lot of confidence for the first Grand Slam.”
In his first meeting with the No. 60-ranked Malisse, the third-seeded Wawrinka recovered from a 2-4 deficit in the first set to win five of the next six games and clinch the opener. Malisse again earned an early break in the second set, though, and only dropped one more point on serve in the remainder of the set as he fought back to level the match.
However, the Belgian could not maintain his high serving standard in the deciding set, only making 40 per cent of first serves and surrendering 11 of 20 points. In contrast, Wawrinka won 16 of 17 points behind his delivery and broke serve in the second and sixth games to wrap up victory in two hours and 14 minutes.
"Malisse played really good and it was tough to find a solution to win because he was moving well and playing aggressively,” reflected Wawrinka. “After the second set, I could see that he got a bit tired so I tried to maintain my game. Today the key of the match was that I stayed aggressive in the third set."
"It's always disappointing when you don't win a final,” lamented Malisse. “But it's not like I played bad, he played really well. My first serve let me down a bit in the third [set]. He got more free points in the third which makes a big difference after two long sets.”
The 30-year-old Malisse was contesting his first ATP World Tour final in four years, since winning the Chennai (d. Koubek) and Delray Beach (d. Blake) titles in early 2007. The Belgian dropped to an 11-2 record in Chennai.
“I played well all week so I have to be happy,” said Malisse. “It feels really good to be back in a final after four years. I'm just happy to be healthy and to be on the court and playing well."