Malisse wins first edition of BNP Paribas Fortis Champions

Xavier Malisse has won the first ATP Champions Tour event in Brussels. After a thrilling final the Belgian beat Australia’s Mark Philippoussis in three sets.

The fans in Brussels’ stylish David Lloyd Club were treated to a spectacular final between X-Man and the Scud. The first set went to a tie-break, which was won by Philippoussis with 7/5. The second set was also very tight until at 5-4 Malisse broke the serve of the Australian, no easy feat, to level the score.

A so-called super tie-break, with ten points to win, had to bring a decision between the former world number 19 (Malisse) and 8 (Philippoussis). Philippoussis kept firing missiles at the Belgian and quickly grabbed a 6-0 lead. The game seemed beyond Malisse’s reach, but the Belgian fought back to a 9-8 lead. At match point a double fault by Philippoussis decided the game.

“When I was 6-0 down in that super tie-break I didn’t think there was any chance of winning,” Malisse said. “I was happy to put that first point on the board, but they kept coming. That goes to show how difficult it is to serve out a match, even if the pressure isn’t what it was during our professional careers. I’m still very happy with this title.”

“It was a very successful first edition of the BNP Paribas Fortis Champions. I’ve had a great time all three days. The atmosphere is really relaxed and I had a lot of fun on the court. The final was more serious, as it should be. It was my first time playing in the ATP Champions Tour and I’m really happy I got to know some of the legends a bit better. The past three days have been fantastic!”