Chennai: Stanislas Wawrinka will not have any regrets for changing his mind at the last moment and deciding to play in the Aircel ATP Chennai Open as the third seeded Swiss, given a wild card, clinched the singles title with a hard-fought 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, win against the 2007 champion Xavier Malisse from Belgium, here on Sunday.
It was not the best of finals witnessed on these courts as both players were prone to errors and only on occasions did the quality of play lift to befit the occasion.
The victory that came after two hours, 14 minutes, earned 25-year old Wawrinka, ranked No.21, a cheque for $68,850 and 250 ranking points while the seventh seeded Malisse took home 36,250 USD and 150 points.
It was Wawrinka's third tour title and his first on hard court while the 60th ranked 30-year old Malisse lost his ninth career finals, three of which he had won.
The 30-year old Malisse was off to a great start as he broke Wawrinka in the very first game of the first set, but it was not long before the Swiss settled down to play some solid tennis that saw him claw back into the match.
Wawrinka, a finalist here last year, broke in the eighth game to draw level, playing some of his best tennis, including some searing winners that left Malisse gasping.
The pressure was squarely on Malisse as he invariably came off second best in the long rallies while Wawrinka looked very assured and secure.
Another break in the 12th after four duces gave Wawrinka the set and he looked poised to drive home the advantage.
However, it was not to be as Malisse, stepping up the pace and getting more aggressive, broke in the third to forge ahead. The games went to serve thereafter and Malisse took the set to push the match into the decider.
Wawrinka was off the blocks quickly in the third set when he broke Malisse in the second game to get his nose in front. It then boiled down to the Swiss merely holding serve and so it proved to be.
Malisse seemed to lose composure in the decider and the several unforced errors at crucial junctures cost him dear was Wawrinka was not about let go of the advantage.
Another break of serve in sixth put the Swiss, who had taken out top seed and World No.6 Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals, in the clear even as Malisse was content to go through the motions thereafter.