He surely did make Sampras huff and puff. It took Sampras 1 hour, 36 minutes to get the first-round victory, by 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Sampras is carrying this tournament of hopeful upstarts and journeymen on his back. If he had been bounced out in the first round, the biggest remaining name in the 32-player field would have been Jim Courier, who has a sore arm and has seen better days.
That didn't concern Malisse, who refused to melt under the heat of Sampras' blistering serve and often carried the play with his aggressiveness and daring.
``I went into the match like I didn't care if it was against Sampras or if it was a junior match,'' said Malisse, who had to battle through the qualifying round over the weekend and figured to be served up to Sampras like a lamb chop.
``I just figured I'd go for it,'' he said. ``I wasn't nervous the whole night, and I think I proved that in the first game,'' in which he broke Sampras.
``I think I looked at his face twice the whole match,'' Malisse said. ``I wasn't scared to hit my shots.''
Malisse was two points from pulling off a shocking upset when, ahead by 5-4 in the third set, he pulled into deuce against Sampras' serve by smoking a low crosscourt forehand deep.
Sampras fought back with a 128-m.p.h ace and pulled even at 5-all. In Game 11, Sampras broke Malisse, who seemed to wear down after losing a long baseline battle for the first point.
After losing that point, Malisse rolled on his back, anguish on his reddened face. He never recovered, though he dragged Sampras into deuce before Sampras, a three-time champion of this event, ended the entertaining match with his familiar serve and volley.
Afterward, as he wore a black Flyers jersey he said was given to him by the team, Sampras scolded himself for a shaky start and praised the baby-faced Malisse.
``I got off to a very bad start - I felt uncomfortable during the first set,'' said Sampras, who won his first career title here in 1990. ``But he was swinging from the hip. After he won the first set, he really loosened up. He's got some talent.
``He made me work very hard. He came up with unbelievable shots that surprised me. He had absolutely no nerves out there, and if he had nerves at the beginning, I helped him out. I think this kid is going to be around a while.''
The top-seeded Sampras assured everyone he'd be sharper tonight in his match against Italy's Andrea Gaudenzi. Malisse, who is ranked 851st in the world, suggested that he'd lose no sleep over coming so close to a remarkable upset.
``If I keep playing like this, I believe I'll soon be in the top 50,'' he said. ``I'm 850th or something now, but I'm only 17. I can learn from this.''
Earlier, Tommy Haas of Germany, at 19 the youngest player ranked in the top 50 (he is 41st), breezed past Vincent Spadea, 6-3, 6-2.
An interesting round-of-16 match was set yesterday afternoon when Holland's unseeded Paul Haarhuis, a veteran of this tournament who became a father earlier his month, routinely put away Javier Sanchez of Spain, 6-3, 6-4.
Haarhuis, 32, a splendid doubles player, will meet Grant Stafford, a South African who reached the semifinals last year by defeating Jim Courier.
Haarhuis is appearing in Philadelphia for the ninth consecutive year, and the city has been kind to him. He reached the final in 1994, losing to Michael Chang, and defeated Sampras on his way to the '95 semifinals. Haarhuis' wife, Anya, gave birth to a boy, Daan, on Feb. 3, in Amsterdam.
Haarhuis had appeared in 33 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments before missing the Australian Open last month to remain with his wife. It was the longest streak among active players.
Haarhuis had an easier time advancing than his eighth-seeded countryman, Sjeng Schalken, who edged Jeff Salzenstein, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6. Last year, Schalken, 21, used the Advanta as a springboard by reaching the semifinals before losing to Sampras. Schalken went on to play in seven finals in '97 and then became the second-ranked Dutchman, behind Richard Krajicek.