Lloyd Harris ATP Indian Wells 2021

Former Slam champ stuns crowd with first ATP appearance in eight years

Crowds at the European Open in Antwerp were treated to a surprising sight as a former ATP pro played his first match since 2013.

2004 French Open doubles champion Xavier Malisse retired from the sport following soon after appearing at the 2013 US Open.

The 41-year-old peaked at world number 19 in singles and number 25 in doubles. He captured three singles titles and nine doubles titles, including Indian Wells in 2011.

The Belgian was even on the receiving end of tour veteran Gael Monfils’ first ever ATP tour level victory, at the 2004 Metz Open.

Now, eight years since leaving the sport, Malisse won his 130th doubles match on tour, alongside world number 32 Lloyd Harris.

While coaching Harris at Indian Wells this month, Malisse and the South African came up with the idea of playing doubles together.

The pair were granted a wildcard to the European Open in Malisse’s native Belgium. There, they defeated Romain Arneodo and Matt Reid 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) to advance to the quarter-finals.

“[My] serve is a lot slower, so placement becomes more important, but I felt okay,” Malisse told the ATP Tour. “Most of all we had fun. I didn’t expect to win, but it’s nice to get a win.”

Malisse has confirmed that this will be the only event that the two play together. In singles, Harris has won his first two matches. The seventh seed will face the victor of Roberto Bautista Agut and Marton Fucsovics in the quarter-finals.

In the doubles, Malisse and Harris will next face top seeds Marcelo Melo and Ivan Dodig for a spot in the semi-finals of the ATP 250 event.