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Marquee match at Mark Knowles tourney

The organizers of the Mark Knowles Celebrity Tennis Invitational are building a special center court at Atlantis, which will hold 1,000 spectators to view the all-star event. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the following locations: Atlantis Tennis Shop, H.G. Christie, Lyford Cay School, the BLTA’s National Tennis Centre and the Village Squash Club. According to reports, to date, the sale of tickets is going extremely well so fans are urged to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity to see world class tennis. Proceeds from the invitational are donated to local children’s charities, which have been the recipients of over $600,000 from the invitational over the past 10 years.

Top players American Andy Roddick and Xaxier Malisse, from Belgium, will play each other in a tennis exhibition match, at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday December 3, at the Atlantis Tennis Complex.

The itinerary will be rounded out with men’s and ladies doubles contests involving: Mark Knowles, Ryan Sweeting, Jesse Levine, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Olga Savchuk, Vania King and Yasmin Schnack.

As for three-time Wimbledon finalist Roddick, he has won 30 ATP singles titles and was the 2003 U.S. Open Champion. He is known for a fearsome serve, hailed as one of the greatest in the history of the game, and his fiercely competitive nature.

Following the Agassi-Sampras glory years, Roddick has been the torchbearer for American tennis in an era dominated by two Europeans, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Roddick is clearly one of the best of his generation. He won the U.S. Open in 2003 and that year finished at World No. 1. In 2007, he fulfilled a life-long dream of winning the Davis Cup.

In 2009, Roddick contested one of the greatest ever Wimbledon finals. For four hours and 16 minutes against Roger Federer, he did not lose serve until the final game of the match as Federer clinched victory, 16-14, in a 95-minute fifth set.

Roddick states that the proudest achievement of his tennis career is his consistency. The Texan has finished in the year-end Top 10 for nine consecutive years (2002-2010), placing him ninth on the All-Time Top 10 Finishes list. Among active players, only Roger Federer can boast such a record.

There has been success for Roddick away from the court, too. In April 2009, he tied the knot with model and actress Brooklyn Decker and they have made their home in Austin, Texas. Roddick is being accompanied by his wife to Paradise Island for the invitational.

As for the 41st ranked Malisse, the 31-year-old player is one of the most charismatic and talented players on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) circuit. He is the best male player to come out of Belgium which is known for its excellent female players Justin Henin and Kim Clijsters.

Malisse was born in Kortrijk, Belgium on July 19, 1980. At age 13, he was as good a soccer player as tennis but made the choice to play tennis. He had an outstanding junior career and made the transition to the pros at the age of 17. Malisse entered the Nick Bollettieri Academy in the summer of 1997 and still trains there part of the season. This is the same academy that Mark Knowles attended from the age of 10. Malisse’s highest singles ranking was number 19 and his highest doubles ranking was number 28. He has won three singles titles and six doubles titles with a Grand Slam highlight of being crowned the 2004 French Open Doubles Champion.

Malisse has been ranked in the top 50 for five years in a row. He has wins over World No. 3 at the time, Novak Djokovic, in 2010, during his career and he has beaten Spaniard Rafael Nadal when he was World No. 1, and top players Lleyton Hewitt, James Blake, Fernando Gonzalez, Tomas Berdych, John Isner and Nikolay Davydenko.

In October 2011, Malisse pushed World No. 1 Djokovic to the limit, 6-2, 4-6 and 7-5, before losing at the Swiss Indoors. Malisse is the 2011 winner of the men’s doubles title in Los Angeles with Bahamian Mark Knowles.

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