ATP Tennis 360

September 28, 2009 12:20 PM

The season of comebacks

In Kuala Lumpur organisers has given wc to Marcos Baghdatis and Joachim “Pim-Pim” Johansson

Night is his demeanour. Marcos Baghdatis is remembered as well for the the latest ever finish at a grand-slam event as for parting hard. In 2008 his quarterfinal match against Lleyton Hewitt at the Australian Open ended at 4.33 am, when the night has come (and probably almost gone away) and the evening empires were vanishing. The extroverted Cypriot tamburine arrived, then 20-years-old, to play the Australian Open final against Roger Federer.

But he’s better known for his genuine sympathy, for his globe-trotter’s style considering aesthetic more relevant than result. Coming from a divided country, half Greek half Turkish, he summed up the Eastern and Western cultures, and gain enthusiastic fans from Athens to Rome to Kuala Lumpur.

His Hectorian battle against an “Achillesque” Agassi, at the last Us Open of his career, remains one of the best glimpse of his deepest essence. Marcos exuded the pleasure for being there and living such an emotion and the simple, slightly childish, hope that his entertainment didn’t end. But every bright dream comes to an end, and Andre won that match. Marcos was victim of the American’s play as well as of his cramps, signalling his flawless as a competitor an his not resolved hidiosynchrasis for the professional part of a professional athlete’s life.

He should encourage his relation with fitness. He should introduce more variation in his point construction strategies, because sudden down-the-line winners are only a counterproductive choice when you’re down a bit. And he should sacrifice a little part of his naivete and manage better the press conferences. Saying, before a clash against Nadal in Paris two year ago, that he can’t stand the Mallorcan game and that he saw a victory against him unlikely surely takes off pressures from your shoulder but give some more strength to your adversaries.

In Kuala Lumpur, where he was seeing engaged in club-hopping, but avoiding dance floor fearing injuries, he benefitted from a wild-card with another “desaparecido”, Joachim “Pim-Pim” Johansson.

Fitness was always his biggest problem, but for completely different reasons. Sidelined for shoulder surgeries, he decided to withdraw from professional tennis in 2008 deciding to comeback next October at the Stockholm Open. Now he’s facing the second ATP event since then and mantain the same old racquet he used when served 51 aces losing to Andre Agassi, the RDX500.

Intriguingly the 27 former top-tenner is opposed to Lleyton Hewitt in the first round of the Malaysian Open. They met each-other only once, at the 2004 Us Open semifinal. Then Johansson dated Jaslyn, Hewitt’s sister: a story finished in 2005. The Swede passed a pair of Chritmases at the Hewitt family home in Adelaide, practising and playing golf with him and his coach.

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