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Malisse downs Blake in Delray Beach final

February 07, 2007


DELRAY BEACH (Florida), Feb 6: Xavier Malisse of Belgium won his second ATP title of the year when he beat top-seeded James Blake 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the rain-delayed Delray Beach International final on Monday.

Third-seeded Malisse trailed 7-5, 3-3 when the final was suspended on Sunday.

When the two returned to the court on Monday, Malisse adapted better to the strong wind.

“I have to tell you if we would have played yesterday I probably would have lost,” Malisse said. “He was hitting it hard yesterday and really clean. Today with the wind it slowed down his ball a little bit especially against the wind.”

Malisse broke the American in the first game on Monday then levelled the set score. He broke Blake in the third game of the last set and served out.

“The court is almost perfect speed for me,” said Malisse, ranked No. 31. “I feel like I can get to every ball if I'm in good shape. It's not too fast. Once you feel comfortable on a court it's just the way it goes sometimes.”

Malisse was playing in his third consecutive Delray Beach final and fifth overall. He won his first career title at Delray Beach in 2005 and his second last month in Chennai, India.

The victory marked his 200th ATP win, and first against Blake, who earned his 200th win last Thursday.

Blake was trying also to win his second title of the year, and become the first top seed to win in Delray Beach's 15-year history.

At this event, Malisse lost one of his round-robin matches against Rainer Schuettler of Germany but still took the title.

Malisse also won the doubles final with American Hugo Armando against James Auckland of Britain and Stephen Huss of Australia, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 10-5 in the tiebreak, matching his feat from Chennai.

Malisse became the first person since Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996 to win a tournament's singles and doubles twice in a year. –AP