Australian Open - Brilliant Baghdatis Books Date With Destiny

Discussion in 'ten-forward' started by Stephanos G., Jan 27, 2006.

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  1. Stephanos G.

    Stephanos G. Registered Member

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    Brilliant Baghdatis Books Date With Destiny
    by Jason Phelan
    Thursday, 26 January, 2006


    Cypriot sensation Marcos Baghdatis has stormed into the men's final of Australian Open 2006 with an epic, come-from-behind semi-final win over highly-ranked Argentine David Nalbandian in the Twilight Session on Day 11 at Melbourne Park.

    Urged on by his highly-vocal cheer squad, the world No.54's meteoric climb through the tournament appeared certain to come to an end at two sets down, but Baghdatis was able to summon a Herculean effort to come back and take the match 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-4.

    After winning the Australian Open junior boy's crown in 2003, this will be the 20-year-old's first Grand-Slam final appearance with his previous best result a fourth-round berth at last year's Centenary Open.

    It was a night of high drama until the very end, with play suspended by a torrential downpour with the score at 5-4 and 15-15 as Baghdatis attempted to serve out the match.

    Having fought so hard for the opportunity, you could only sympathise with Baghdatis as he raised his arms to the heavens in disbelief as he trudged off Centre Court to await the closing of the Rod Laver Arena roof.

    With the court dry and the roof closed, play resumed after a 30-minute pause and the Cypriot held his nerve - serving an ace for the win on his second match point.

    "It's like a dream, I have to wake up I think because it's unbelievable - I don't know what to say - it's just amazing," Baghdatis said after the gallant victory.

    "It's a dream (of mine) to play here and win this tournament - I believe it, my coach believes it, the guys I work with believe it, my parents believe it - I work for that and I believe in it.

    "I'm very proud of myself and very proud of what we've been working on through the years. It's been an amazing career for me, it's like a story and I'm just very proud."

    He was at a loss to explain his Houdini-like escape from the jaws of defeat.

    "To tell you the truth I don't really know," Baghdatis said with a laugh.

    "I'm playing amazing tennis, I just stopped thinking and just played my tennis, tried to be very aggressive and everything was going in. I'm just in my own world right now I think."

    No.4 seed Nalbandian joins fellow seeds Andy Roddick (2) and Ivan Ljubicic (7) as one of the highly-ranked casualties of Baghdatis' stirring run to the final, with the success story of the tournament set to meet either world No.1 Roger Federer or Nicolas Kiefer in the final.

    The classy Argentine had all the answers in the first set-and-a-half, while Baghdatis seemed to have finally run out of ideas after thrilling the crowd with his inventive play throughout his Open run.

    The tension of the occasion was evident early in the match with both players losing their serves soon after the start, but that was to be Baghdatis' only break opportunity for the set, while Nalbandian had nine and converted two of them to take the set comfortably.

    The Cypriot was quickly down two service breaks in the second set, but managed to break Nalbandian as he served for the set at 5-2 and held his own serve in the next game with relative ease.

    The comeback was in top gear when he broke the Argentine again to be back on serve at 5-5 with the pumped-up Baghdatis raising his fist to the ecstatic crowd, but their elation didn't last long as he lost his serve in the very next game.

    Like many before him, Baghdatis appeared spooked by the onset of the traditional fireworks display let off in a nearby park to commemorate Australia Day, losing his serve and the set after Nalbandian held.

    The third set proceeded on serve until Baghdatis broke the pattern, pulling out some stunning forehand winners to go up a break at 4-2. He held his nerve and his serve this time and went on to serve out the set with an ace two games later.

    The Cypriot's serve was his Achilles heel in the first two sets, but it became his most formidable weapon in the third and fourth with his winning percentage on first serve a stunning 93 per cent in the third and 88 per cent in the fourth.

    Baghdatis sent the match into five sets by converting his only break point opportunity in the fourth set and successfully holding off a determined challenge from Nalbandian.

    The differing body language of the players was notable as they came on court for the decisive set with Baghdatis skipping to his end, while Nalbandian trudged wearily to his, wiping sweat off his face with a towel as he went.

    It made little difference early, however, as the Argentine struck first, breaking to go ahead 2-0 before, once again, being broken right back. The two broke each other once again as the set progressed, but Baghdatis made his move in the ninth game, breaking the No.4 seed to love, before going on to eventually serve out the match.

    http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/articles/2006-01-26/200601261138282927109.html


    http://www.australianopen.com/images/pics/large/b_mbaghdatis_0126_01.jpg
     
  2. iceni60

    iceni60 ( ^o^)

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  3. bigbuck

    bigbuck Registered Member

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    Re: - Brilliant Baghdatis Books Date With Destiny

    Yeah Ice ;) I'm sure it's all about wills! :)
     
  4. iceni60

    iceni60 ( ^o^)

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    Re: - Brilliant Baghdatis Books Date With Destiny

    form and stamina are very important too. :cautious:
     
  5. Stephanos G.

    Stephanos G. Registered Member

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    Marcos Baghdatis arrived in Melbourne as one of the rising stars of the tennis world but it would be fair to say that plenty of the game's fans knew little about him. The 20-year-old Cypriot has changed that though with two superb weeks at Australian Open 2006.

    Baghdatis played some of the finest shots seen at the tournament and also engaged all he came across off the court as his excellent adventure came to an end just one match short with defeat against world No.1 Roger Federer in the Melbourne Park decider.

    The 2003 Australian Open Junior Boys' Singles champion took it up to the Swiss No.1 seed for two sets but the momentum changed when he says he began to start 'thinking too much' about winning the title and not just playing his natural game.

    "I just start thinking, got a bit stressed out, stopped playing my game, made some mistakes, gave the chance to Roger to come in and play his game and be aggressive, and that cost the match I think," Baghdatis said following Federer's 5-7 7-5 6-0 6-2 victory.

    "I did focus for two sets. But then, I don't know, there were moments that start thinking too much. Maybe was a bit scared of him and didn't really believe in it. So, I mean, it was tough. After everything was going so fast, I couldn't do anything. He was playing great."

    "He got his momentum and he was playing great tennis. So when Roger's playing good, I mean, it's really tough. And when you give him the chance to come in the court and play his game, I can tell you, in the court it's really tough."

    "Yeah, I start thinking about that, start thinking about a lot of things, and I stopped playing. Gave Roger, like I said, the chance to come in and be more aggressive than me. That's what happened."

    Along the way Baghdatis beat Czech No.17 seed Radek Stepanek in the second-round, American No.2 seed Andy Roddick in the fourth-round, Croatian No.7 seed Ivan Ljubicic in the quarter-finals and Argentine No.4 seed David Nalbandian in the semi-finals.

    "Beating Roddick, I mean, was first time winning in Rod Laver Arena I mean, beating No.3 in the world was my best victory," Baghdatis said of his stunning Day Seven victory. "It was really emotionally was fantastic."

    As well as thrilling both the local fans and Melbourne's Cypriot and Greek communities with his performances - with his own soccer-like fan club following his every move - Baghdatis also delighted the tennis public with his personality.

    He celebrated every victory by heading off to a local restaurant for some Greek cuisine, with the eatery adding an item to its menu and naming it in his honour, and he continued to charm even in making his speech at the presentation following his defeat.

    Earlier, when he walked out at Rod Laver Arena to a rapturous welcome, Baghdatis acknowledged the reception from the crowd with a few waves, and then sat down to ready himself for the battle ahead while keeping one eye on those cheering for him.

    He bounced out of his chair for the toss of the coin and then also laughed with the pockets of Cypriot and Greek supporters chanting his name and slogans about him before crossing himself as the match was about to begin.

    Baghdatis jumped out of the blocks by claiming the first set and then opening up a 2-0 lead early in the second set, and with two break points on Federer's serve in the third game he could have been up two breaks.

    But Federer won 11 games in succession and 16 of the next 19 to firstly square the match and then also take the third set and lead 3-0 in the fourth en route to his 166-minute triumph.

    Baghdatis fought the match out to the end, even though he was also battling cramp in his left calf - an ailment that he had treated three times at courtside - but Federer's class and experience proved too much.

    Having forgotten to pay tribute to Federer when he made his speech, Baghdatis was glowing in his praise of the now dual Australian Open and seven-time Grand Slam champion, who cried when he addressed the crowd.

    "I want to congratulate him (Federer) because he played a great tournament," he said. "He's a great athlete, great sportsman. He just gives a lot to the game. He's so charismatic. He's just playing unbelievable."

    "It's good to have him around. It's a pleasure to play against him and it's a pleasure to be in the changing room with him. Today when I saw him cry, I mean, I felt happy for him. He's a great man, I think."

    "He is a great person. He shows a lot. He gives a lot to people, I think. It's just so emotional up there, you cannot control yourself. So I think I know what he's going through."

    Asked to sum up his experience in Melbourne, Baghdatis told of how much he has enjoyed himself, with a school in his hometown of Limassol recording a song about him and his favourite soccer team back home, Apollo, sending him an autographed t-shirt.

    "Dream come true," he said. "That's the only thing I can say. I mean, it was a great dream. I mean, it feels great."

    "Feels great that all the tough work I've been through and all the things I'm doing through all these years and all the sacrifices my parents do for me, for them and everything, I mean, it was just great being here and playing a final, even if I lost it."

    Hopeful that he will be the inspiration for Cypriot kids to take up the game, Baghdatis not only wants to become a Grand Slam winner in future but also has his sights sets on Davis Cup success for Cyprus with countryman Yiannos Hadjigeorgiou.

    Baghdatis may not have claimed the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup as Australian Open Men's Singles champion, but he captured the hearts of not only his own nation in Cyprus, but also plenty more both in Australia and all around the tennis world.


    http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/articles/2006-01-29/200601291138548304572.html

    http://www.futuretennisstars.com/images/players/Marcos%20Baghdatis.gif
     
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