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Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Defending champ beats sixth-seeded Melzer news services

CHENNAI, India -- Defending champion Xavier Malisse, Mikhail Youzhny, Carlos Moya and Florent Serra won second-round matches Wednesday to reach the Chennai Open quarterfinals.

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Malisse, a Belgian who missed most of last season because of injuries, beat sixth-seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria 7-6 (3), 6-2. He next will play Youzhny, a Russian who defeated Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-5, 1-6, 6-2.

Third-seeded Carlos Moya of Spain, the Chennai Open winner in 2004 and '05, will face Serra of France in the next round. Moya outlasted Russian qualifier Alexandre Kudryavtsev 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-2. Serra edged Kristof Vliegen of Belgium 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (3).

Malisse held serve throughout and had two breaks. "I served well and followed up with good ground strokes," he said. "I'm very happy today. I was more aggressive than the first match and served really well. My confidence is going up."

Last year, Malisse was sidelined by a wrist injury after winning in Chennai and Delray Beach, Fla., early in the season. He returned for the U.S. Open but was eliminated in the second round and then tore a ligament in his right knee to end his season. Youzhny reeled off seven straight games to clinch the opening set after trailing 5-0. He then produced some stunning winners in the third set.

Youzhny, who played in Russia's Davis Cup final loss to the United States in December, blamed the break going into the tournament for his erratic play.

"I'm still not 100 percent," he told reporters. "I'm trying to recover my best game but sometimes I'm not fast enough. That is why my game is up and down. Although I was not at the same level all match today, I'm happy I still showed my best game in the first week of the year."

"Mikhail's playing very well and showed his grit by bouncing back," Malisse said. Youzhny hopes to play better against Malisse. "I'm looking at some consistency in the next outing," he said. "My game was up and down today."

Information from the Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.