ATP Tennis 360

October 26, 2009 9:01 AM

New lights on Marcos Baghdatis

Marcos Baghdatis is back. The Cypriot won the Stockholm Atp 250 over Olivier Rochus 61 75. Baghdatis, who hadn’t such a joy since February 2007 (in Zagreb, w. over Ivan Ljubicic) is the tenth unseeded player to clinch a title this season. Is this enough to talk about a Renaissance of the ex Australian Open finalist? Is this a sufficiently bright signal to turn off the critics of who considers Marcos nothing more than a meteor who lived only a summer of unexpected glory?

Probably not, although a victory is always a victory and should mollify attacks and oppositions. Marcos won a decent tournament, but surely not an astonishing tournament. The only top-10 in the main draw, Robin Soderling, withdrawn in the semifinal for an elbow injury, and gave up the hope of improving his ranking points replacing the 115 points of the success at the Sunrise Challenger. The quality of the event is testified by the semifinal between Olivier Rochus (who was the 21th best player in the world, has two career titles and, although his one-handed backhand and smart strategies would deserve more, hasn’t reached the fourth round in a Grand Slam event since 2005) and the Gstaad champions, the 21 y.o. Brasilian Thonas Bellucci.

Apart from the level of his opponent, anyway, Baghdatis seemed regenerated. Certainly he doesn’t play “on the cloud” like in the glorious 2006, but he displayed a consistent performance, above all with serve. In the final he broke for the first time, after wasting two opportunities, and again in the sixth game. On his serve he registered two points out of three on his serve and 8 aces after 40 minutes, at the end of the first set. In the second Baghdatis, who had already beaten the Belgian 75 64 at the Italian Masters, clinched his fifth and decisive break to serve for the match at 65, sealing the success in 99 minutes thanks to the 15 aces, the 62% of points transformed on his serve and to the four break points saved out of six.

Phisycally Marcos appeared wirier, more zippy, showing precise strokes with perhaps less power than before. Touch is always the same: it can’t be lost, probably like the slight paunch. Generally, it seems coach Infantino is doing a good work.

In the end, this good victory is a small step towards the highest possible aim for Marcos, a stable stay in the top-30 with some raid in the top-20. The odds are against a possible come back of the Cypriot in the top-10 (he was n.8 at his best ranking). To reach his goals Marcos has to practice with a persistence he has never showed, because of his spirit and a series of injuries. And it would be difficult to understand if the injuries forced him to stuttering trainings, or his slightly lazy spirit, showing itself in his way of practicing, caused the injuries. He is definitely a nice guy, a natural entertainer that could only add positive effects for tennis. But he isn’t the champion capable of being a systematic danger for the Big Four as many had thought after the 2006 Australian Open.

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