Belgian Xavier Malisse was coaching South African Lloyd Harris in Indian Wells when they came up with an interesting idea. They had been hitting together a lot in recent weeks, so why not play doubles together?
Their wish was granted with a wild card from the European Open. And on Wednesday, they beat Monaco’s Romain Arneodo and Australian Matt Reid 6-4, 7-6(4) to reach the quarter-finals in Antwerp. It was Malisse’s first tour-level match since the 2013 US Open, more than eight years ago.
“It was fun. That’s the whole reason we participated,” Malisse told ATPTour.com. “Honestly it felt nice to be back, it’s nice to play and also alongside Lloyd after a good summer together and good travelling. It felt really good. I was actually pretty happy with how it went.”
FOLLOW THIS WEEK’S ACTION
The 41-year-old, who cracked the Top 25 in singles and doubles, said this will be their only event. But he was happy to “be back out there and compete one more time”. They play Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo on Thursday after the top seeds beat Dutchmen David Pel and Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 7-6(4).
“[My] serve is a lot slower, so placement becomes more important, but I felt okay,” Malisse said, cracking a laugh. “Most of all we had fun. I didn’t expect to win, but it’s nice to get a win.”
Belgian stars Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, the fourth seeds, were upset. Argentine Federico Delbonis and Spaniard David Vega Hernandez beat the home favorites 5-7, 6-4, 11-9. Austrians Oliver Marach and Philipp Oswald also advanced with a 4-6, 6-4, 10-6 victory against Israeli Jonathan Erlich and Swede Andre Goransson.
Top Seeds Eliminated In Moscow
Indian Rohan Bopanna and Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi eliminated top seeds Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday to reach the VTB Kremlin Cup quarter-finals.
Bopanna and Qureshi have won five ATP Tour titles together, with their most recent triumph coming in Dubai in 2014.