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Malisse Defeats Spadea at Delray Beach

February 6, 2005

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Xavier Malisse battled to a 7-5, 6-4 win over top-seeded Vince Spadea in the semifinals Saturday night at the Millennium Tennis Championships, continuing a tradition of the top-seeded player never winning the title in the 13-year history of the tournament.

The third-seeded Malisse, of Belgium, will play No. 2 Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic in Sunday’s final. Malisse will be going for his first title in seven career finals, including two previous appearances in the Delray Beach final.

Novak, playing in his first tournament of the year, earned his spot in the final with a 6-3, 6-3 win over South African Wesley Moodie earlier in the day.

``I just had a good fight out there,″ Malisse said. ``I was really lucky to come out on top.″

``I lost the match, big deal,″ said an irritated Spadea, a Floridian who reached the final here last year. ``I’m disappointed I lost the match. It doesn’t have any more effect if it’s here or in China.″

It was a cold, wet night and there were three rain delays in the first set. The match was patchy as both Spadea and Malisse had a hard time taking control.

In all, 10 of the 22 games ended in service breaks, with Spadea failing to hold serve on six occasions and Malisse losing serve four times.

Novak, who has ended the last three years ranked in the top 25, will be vying for his eighth career title on Sunday. He had little trouble Saturday with Moodie.

``I think I was playing solid tennis today and I was holding my serve really well,″ said Novak, who holds a 4-1 career mark against Malisse. ``He didn’t have a break point during the whole match.″

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