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Malisse eases to Chennai title win

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CHENNAI, India -- Third seed Xavier Malisse of Belgium defeated Stefan Koubek of Austria in just an hour to win the $416,000 ATP Chennai Open on Sunday.

The 37th-ranked Malisse won 6-1 6-3 in a disappointing final before 5,000 Indian fans at the Nungambakkam tennis stadium, to pick up the winner's purse of $65,850 and 35 ATP Race Points.

It was the Belgian's first title in two years. He won his only other tournament in Delray Beach, Florida, in January 2005.

The 26-year-old, who stunned world number two Rafael Nadal of Spain in the semifinals, began his 2007 campaign in rousing fashion after finishing among the top 50 five times in the last six years.

Koubek paid for erratic serving, failing to hold any of his four service games in the first set before being broken again in the fourth game of the second set.

Malisse lost his serve only once, in the fourth game of the first set, and wasted one match point before Koubek hit wide to lose the final.

The 30-year-old Koubek, ranked 80th, beat seventh seed Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand, fourth seed Julien Benneteau of France and Spanish veteran Carlos Moya in his previous three matches, losing just 10 games.

But the left-hander's form deserted him in the final and Koubek suffered his fourth successive defeat against Malisse. The duo last met at the French Open in 2003.

"This has been a fantastic week," said Malisse. "It seemed a tough draw at the start but I took it one match at a time and here I am with the title.

"The first week of the season is always tough but my game came together early and it has done a lot of good for my confidence for the season ahead.

"I will go to the Australian Open with a very positive mind."

Koubek, who hopes to return to the top-50 this year, earned $35,500 for his efforts and picked up 24 ATP Race Points.

"I may have lost the final but it was awesome to get there in the first place," said the Austrian, who has three ATP titles under his belt, the last at Doha in 2003.

"Malisse played unbelievable tennis today and gave me no chance. But I am happy the way I played this week."


Malisse took just an hour to defeat Koubek for only his second victory on the ATP Tour.

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