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Champ will aim to defend tittle

Defending champion Xavier Malisse of Belgium has confirmed his participation for the $436,000 13th Chennai Open 2008.

sports Updated: Nov 22, 2007 22:42 IST

Defending champion and winner of a rare double in 2007, Xavier Malisse of Belgium has confirmed his participation for the $436,000 13th Chennai Open 2008.

The 13th edition of the tournament will be held from December 31, 2007-January 6, 2008 at the SDAT Stadium here.

The 27-year-old Belgian last year played sparkling tennis all through the week. He had a dream run beating World No 2 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals and Austrian Stefan Koubek 6-1, 6-3 in the final. Malisse then partnered compatriot Dick Norman to defeat the Spaniard duo of Nadal and Bartolome Salve Vidal in the doubles finals 7-6(4), 7-6(4).

A press release from the organisers quoted Malisse as saying: "It feels great to be back to the place where it all began. I won both singles and doubles titles in 2007 and I really enjoyed playing at Chennai. I have had a spate of injuries this year and was not able to give a consistent performance. I am extremely confident that I would be able to make a successful comeback and be able to defend my title."

Malisse joins World No. 2 Nadal, Marcos Baghdatis (16), Carlos Moya (17) and Mikhail Youzhny (19) in an impressive line-up of stars.

In 2007, Xavier Malisse was limited to only five tournaments due to a right wrist injury, but before being sidelined, he won ATP singles and doubles titles in two of his first three tournaments, in Chennai and Delray Beach.

Malisse became the first player to accomplish feat twice in a season since Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. He then injured his wrist on February 19 in Memphis and retired. He was sidelined for almost six months before returning at the US Open in August, but lost to David Nalbandian in the second round.

Malisse turned professional in 1998. He enjoyed outstanding junior career, reaching quarter-finals at Junior Wimbledon and third round at Junior French Open in 1997. He has a 10-6 career Davis Cup record (10-4 in singles) in nine ties since 1998.