• Wawrinka, Malisse square off for Chennai title

    1/8/11 10:08 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Wawrinka, Malisse square off for Chennai title Stanislas Wawrinka will contest the Chennai final for the second consecutive year on Sunday. Standing in his way this time is former tournament champion Xavier Malisse.

    One year after finishing runner-up at the Aircel Chennai Open, Stanislas Wawrinka finds himself back in the title match. Having lost to Marin Cilic in 2010, this time Wawrinka is going up against Xavier Malisse. Somewhat surprisingly, the two competitors are set for their first career head-to-head encounter.

    Both players have been in outstanding form this week. Wawrinka has dismissed Rohan Bopanna, David Goffin, Robin Haase, and Tomas Berdych, losing just a single set to Haase in the quarterfinals. The 21st-ranked Swiss crushed the top-seeded Berdych 6-4, 6-1 in a scintillating performance on Saturday.

    Malisse has not faced quite the same caliber of opposition, but he has been similarly impressive. Chennai's No. 7 seed dropped a mere 10 total games in his first three matches, victories over Marsel Ilhan, Stephane Robert, and Bjorn Phau. He followed that up with a three-set win over Janko Tipsarevic in a tough semifinal.

    Wawrinka is 2-6 lifetime in ATP finals. His last title came one season ago on the clay courts of Casablanca. Malisse has triumphed in three of 11 ATP finals and this is his first appearance in a title match since winning in Delray Beach back in 2007. The 30-year-old Belgian also won the Chennai title that season.

    A furious baseline battle should be on Sunday's menu, and it could go either way even though Wawrinka is the clear favorite on paper. Based on Wawrinka's showing against Berdych, look for the No. 3 seed to pull out a three-set victory.

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