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  • Malisse, Mahut meet in all-unseeded semifinal

    6/21/13 3:29 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Malisse, Mahut meet in all-unseeded semifinal A final spot will be at stake when Xavier Malisse goes up against Nicolas Mahut on Friday in 's-Hertogenbosch. Mahut is two wins away from his first career ATP title.

    Xavier Malisse and Nicolas Mahut will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers at the ATP level when they clash in the semifinals of the Topshelf Open on Friday.

    Mahut won their only previous encounter 3-6, 7-6(8), 7-5 on the grass courts of Nottingham in 2006. They also faced each other twice in hard-court Challenger events, with Malisse prevailing both times in three sets.

    Malisse has always been an outstanding grass-courter and he is up to his old tricks this week in 's-Hertogenbosch. The former Wimbledon semifinalist (2002) ousted No. 1 seed David Ferrer in round one before getting past Yen-Hsun Lu and Roberto Bautista Agut. Malisse, ranked 60th in the world at 32 years old, is one victory away from an even 13-13 record for the season.

    Mahut has also fared well on the slick stuff throughout his career. In addition to playing one of the most famous matches in tennis history at Wimbledon in 2010 against John Isner, he also finished runner-up at Queen's Club in 2007 (lost to Andy Roddick in a third-set tiebreaker). The 240th-ranked Frenchman qualified for the main draw last weekend and has since dismissed Ricardas Berankis, Andrey Kuznetsov, and Evgeny Donskoy all in straight sets.

    "It's been a good week," Mahut assured. "It's my first semifinal since 2007. I'm really, really happy about that. I was injured for six months and didn't know if I could play again on the tour."

    The 31-year-old is playing again and playing well--at least on grass. His stellar serve and net play allow him to implement aggressive tactics and keep points short. Malisse, though, is extremely comfortable on this surface and he also has far more experience in the latter stages of tournaments (he has been to 12 ATP finals and owns three titles). Count on a high-quality affair, with a slight edge going to Malisse.


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