Xavier Malisse won the exhibition-tournament on grass in Liverpool!
RR X. Malisse d. J. Murray 6-1,7-6 (4)
RR X. Malisse d. R. Kendrick 6-4, 6-3
RR X. Malisse d. F. Sletting 6-2, 6-3
SF X. Malisse d. K. Skupski 6-4, 6-1
F X. Malisse d. V. Spadea 3-6, 7-5, 14-12
Malisse Wins Liverpool International
Sunday 18 June 2006
Xavier Malisse, currently ranked 41 on the ATP tour, arrived early for practice, and was soon
followed by America's Vince Spadea (who's current ranking is 75). The pair last met in 2005 at Delray Beach, Florida on hard courts, where Malisse won 7-5, 6-4.The last time they played
each other on grass was at Wimbledon in 2003, where Malisse was the victor
again. The current head to head is 3.0 Malisse so Spadea was out to upset the Belgian.
The players walked on to centre court just before 2pm to a packed stadium
led by ex-Wimbledon referee Alan Mills. Malisse struggled in the first set
and wasn't too comfortable with the damp conditions and the heavy ball.
Spadea on the other hand looked a lot more comfortable and used it to his
advantage taking the first set 6-3.
Rain briefly brought the players off the court early in the second set with the score on serve at 2.1. This gave Malisse time to re-group and Spadea time to get additional advice from
his coach to see how he could continue his positive start. After a thirty minute delay play
was resumed, with Malisse looking a lot more confident.The players stayed on serve as thay adjusted again to the courts. It looked all set for the tiebreak when Malisse managed the all important break at 6.5 and closed out the second set to 7-5. One set all! It was set for an exciting decider.
Owing to the inclement weather it was decided the match would be decided in a super tie
break. The packed crowd had remained in their seats despite the stoppages and they were waiting with much anticipation to see if Spadea could break Malisse's run of
wins against him.
The Super Tie Break or Champions Tie Break is decided by the first player to reach 10 points by 2 clear points and continues until those 2 clear points are reached.
It was a nail biting tie break, first Malisse getting the vital mini break and they changed ends for the first time at 4.2 Malisse.Malisse continued to build on this break and went ahead 8-5 - it seemed it would soon be over. But Vince Spadea was not finished and started a come back.The score was levelled at 8 all. Spadea then went ahead for the first time in the tie break, breaking Malisse's serve to go 9-8. Again was this now Spadea's chance. But Malisse had other ideas. He levelled again and the score went to 12 all. Then the all important break and Malisse served to eventually win the match 14-12 .
Final Score Malisse winning by (3-6, 7-5, 14-12.
So despite all the ups and downs of weather, the crowd were treated to an amazing final between two very talented players and proved once again that the match is not won until the very last moment.
As our newly crowned champion for 2006 Xavier Malisse said:
"I didn't feel good when I first came on court, I didn't feel steady on my
feet but the rain break seemed to work for me. I warmed up a little more,
regrouped and felt a lot more confident when I went back out. The tie break
went my way eventually, thank God, but he nearly came back. I hope to come
back next year to defend the title."
Later the crowd who had stayed behind were treated to a 1 setter between Mansour Bahrami and Henri Leconte against the 2 Australians Pat Cash and Peter McNamara which Bahrami/Leconte won 8.6.
All in all it was a great Finals Day in which tennis had the upper hand despite nature trying to take its toll. The joys of the English grass court season.