Malisse conquers emotions in LA

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IOL pic july25 tennis generic Reuters .

Los Angeles - Xavier Malisse snapped a racquet over his knee in a fit of anger, but eventually got his game under control to end a four-match, first-round losing streak at the Los Angeles Open on Tuesday.

The fifth-seeded Belgian levelled his record at the ATP Tour event at 8-8 as he beat recent UCLA graduate Nicolas Meister, of the US, 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the second round.

It marked the first match win for Malisse here since 2005 when he defeated Tommy Haas in the second round and eventually reached the quarters.

Meister was the lowest-ranked player in the qualifying field at 625 and was playing in his first ATP main draw event. He won three qualifying matches in as many days, losing just one set to enter the tournament.

Malisse, 32 and ranked 72nd in the world, got off to a quick start in the opening set but then got bogged down as the challenger started to threaten.

Malisse had a minor meltdown after dropping serve in the eighth game of the opener as Meister broke with a lob to reach four-all.

But the European veteran recovered in a marathon ninth game, breaking back on a fifth-break point from his opponent's backhand out.

Malisse re-established his serve, taking the set 6-4 after 59 minutes. He ran away with the second as his game started to click, clinching the set on his first match point from Meister's backhand error.

“In the first set, I was trying to find my game,” said Malisse, who lost in the Atlanta first round last week after a Wimbledon fourth-round showing. “In the second set I played really well.

“Hopefully I can keep this up. I didn't know my opponent's game, but I remembered that I had hit with him before. He's a good player who hangs in.

“Now that I'm getting older, maybe I'm not thinking so much on court and letting it flow. The grass season was good for me, but I'm still a bit tired.”

American Michael Russell earned a second-round place as he beat compatriot Jesse Levine 6-3, 6-4 while Russian Igor Andreev put out Israeli Dudi Sela 7-6 (7/4), 6-4. - Sapa-AFP


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