On a day when the big names were not in action, former world No. 1 Carlos Moya showed he is still famous here, as he ousted Kevin Kim 6-4, 6-3 to enter the last eight of the Chennai Open.
Just before that, third seed Xavier Malisse was in a furious mood as he started on a wrong note, being foot-faulted thrice in his first game against Stefano Galvani. Malisse smashed his racquet but then regrouped to defeat Galvani in straight sets.
For Moya, Chennai is home away from home. The Mallorcan has been coming here year after year, almost as if it is an annual pilgrimage. To say he is a recognisable face here would be stating the obvious, as the 30-year-old rediscovered his bludgeoning forehand. More importantly, battling young Kim, the Spaniard showed his court coverage is still intact.
At 30, motivation is not easy for professionals on the circuit. But Moya still finds playing competitive tennis enjoyable, as he proved after being a break down early in the first set. In a matter of just one game, Moya broke back to make it 2-2 and stroked with increasing confidence. The best, undoubtedly, came in the 10th game when Moya’s forehand winners were too hot for Kim to handle, as he won the first set on a break.
It was not as if Kim, ranked 105, did not try at all. His single-grip backhand was classy. But on this day, Moya was simply too focused. “The scoreline suggests the match was easy but it wasn’t. I am happy with the way I am playing and my forehand worked well,” said Moya.
Asked if David Nalbandian’s exit from the tournament meant he has an easier path ahead, he said, “Nalbandian lost, but he is a very good player. There are no easy matches whoever I play,” said Moya. He plays Ivo Karlovic next, who beat Kristian Pless 7-6, 7-6.
For Belgian Malisse, who had a good 2006 and finished with a 31-24 win-loss record, things did not go the way he wanted. As the sea breeze wafted in and the fans trooped into the stadium, Malisse was foot-faulted thrice in the first game and then he hit a forehand long to lose serve.
“All sorts of things happened in the first game and I was feeling frustrated after being called for foot-fault. Two of those calls were bad,” said Malisse. Once that game was behind him, Malisse regrouped quickly, saving a clutch of break points. The biggest worry for Galvani was his serve, as he had a low first serve percentage and could save only eight of the 12 break points. Meanwhile, Frenchman Fabice Santoro pulled out of the doubles due to back injury, giving Paradorn Srichaphan and S. Ratiwatana passage into the main draw as lucky losers. Santoro will decide on Thursday whether or not he plays singles.
Results (2nd round): Xavier Malisse bt Stefano Galvani 6-3, 6-2; Carlos Moya bt Kevin Kim 6-4, 6-3; Ivo Karlovic bt Kristian Pless 7-6, 7-6.