Xavier is goin' fine in Delray Beach... Quarter final against Florian Mayer and a possible semi-final against Andre Agassi (who lost one set today against Delgado)
here's an article about him. Actually it's more like an ode to Xavier
Commentary: X is all that marks undercover champ
By Dave George
Palm Beach Post Columnist
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
DELRAY BEACH — Andre Agassi plays again tonight at the Delray Beach International Championships. He plays at 7 p.m. Press 1 if you need to know the name of his second-round opponent.
OK, so I'm hearing dead silence on the line. Not entirely unexpected.
Press 2, then, if you would like to know when Andy Roddick's match is scheduled.
Gotcha, or at least a few of you, because some are still unaware that Roddick asked in and then out of this tournament during the weekend.
All right, here's one to test the true tennis fan. Press X if you know the name of Delray's defending champion. He's the guy cruising under the radar, ponytail flapping in the breeze, and he's about to hit a real career hot streak, if not here, then soon.
"I don't like to be in the spotlight," Xavier Malisse said Tuesday, and the truth is nothing could be more wonderful because no Brand X ever has been pushed farther to the back of the shelf.
Malisse's tournament defense began at 5:45 p.m., Tuesday, while most fans were still trying to find a parking spot and a bite to eat. He'll go off again today at 5:30, in the shadows, on Andre's undercard. So what would have happened if Roddick and James Blake hadn't withdrawn?
Delray's defending champion on Court 3?
Press 0 if you want to talk to tournament director Mark Baron about doing something about this, like maybe bumping Andre off center court and giving Malisse the evening's feature match.
Again with the silence.
Again Malisse, the most consistently successful player in the history of the Delray event, must face the truth. He has one ATP title. Only one. For all the money, and he's won nearly $3 million on tour, it's winning that sets a player apart.
Nobody had to explain this to him in January 2005, when an upset win over Jiri Novak in the Delray final sent Malisse bopping back home to Sarasota, music blaring loud enough to warm the leather inside his Range Rover and that precious championship trophy belted safely in the passenger seat.
"I've never felt seeing that last ball go out and getting the monkey off my back," Malisse said, for he had had been in six previous finals without a breakthrough. Now he's back on the brink. A finalist at Adelaide last month, but not a champion. A five-set loser at the Australian Open, but in the second round.
"It's funny," said Sargis Sargsian, a wild-card entrant who fought for 74 minutes against Malisse on Tuesday but was easily dismissed all the same, 6-2, 6-2. "Patrick Rafter won two titles at the U.S. Open, but for the longest time he had only two or three titles. I guess it's just not easy winning out here. I won just once, 22 years ago."
Twenty-two years is an obvious exaggeration. But for Sargsian, who won his only ATP title in 1997, it probably seems that long.
Malisse is 25. Was Delray his once-in-a-lifetime experience as champion? No way that's possible. We're talking about a sensational athlete, capable of reaching the Wimbledon semifinals in 2002, and flashy on court, too. Wasn't it just the other day that he was dating Jennifer Capriati? Or was that really six years ago?
Time flies out here, and every season a new set of kids in long shorts and backward caps comes flying out of nowhere to join the flock of championship contenders. Most will pull an upset or two, thrilling their parents and their coaches and their countrymen, but never really feel at home.
Malisse, at least, has Delray, where he was a finalist in 1999 and 2001 before breaking through last year, and where his all-time match record is 17-5.
"It feels great here," the transplanted Belgian said. "I can pretty much do my own thing, drive my own car over, eat at all the restaurants on Atlantic Avenue."
Who cares that he isn't always recognized, or that he isn't always seated immediately? That is Andre's life.
Delray's defending champion goes on court early again today. That, for now, is his.