Marcos Baghdatis

Born: June 17, 1985 in Paramytha (Limassol)
Height: 1.79 m
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Μάρκος Παγδατής developed his tennis talent in France, where he moved from Cyprus as a 12-year-old boy. However, his career highlights were closely connected to the Australian Open, where he consistently enjoyed the strong support of the Greek diaspora. Hailing from the southern part of the island, which is a Greek speaking area, while northern belongs to Turkey, Παγδατής made a name for himself in the tennis world of the mid 00s and he’s the best Cypriot player in history by a country mile (an enormous 47-4 record in the Davis Cup, but it shouldn’t be treated super seriously as he never took part in a tie of Group One which I estimate as the Challenger level… among those 47 wins there are only 2 against an equal opposition, both against Jarkko Nieminen).
His first appearance Down Under was in 2005 (he’d claimed a junior title there in 2003) when, as the 155th-ranked qualifier, he surprised everyone by defeating two seeded opponents. One year later, he made significant progress, reaching the final (defeated by Roger Federer) which puts him in a similar category with Mikael Pernfors, Martin Verkerk and Mariano Puerta, so unseeded players who advanced to a Grand Slam final not having played a quarterfinal before, marking career-best achievement. Along the way, he outlasted three higher-ranked opponents in five-setters (including quarterfinal and semifinal – another resemblance to Puerta’s case), displaying resilience and fantastic interactions with the crowd. However, the fifth set wasn’t his strong suit overall, as he concluded his career with a 14-10 record (9-2 in Melbourne). One of his most memorable five-set encounters occurred at the Australian Open ’08 when he lost a 4:43-hour thriller to Lleyton Hewitt, marking the latest finish in Melbourne at 4:33 a.m., despite a comeback from 1:5 in the 4th set. In the first two rounds, the Cypriot had defeated the finalists of 2002.
His appearance in Melbourne in ’09 marked the only time he shaved his head throughout his career. One year later, he stunned David Ferrer, then considered one of the best five-set specialists, in the second round. It was the biggest comeback of his career, trailing 4-6, 3-6, 3:4 on return. The Australian Open ’12 showcased a different side of Baghdatis; always cheerful and smiling, yet occasionally throwing his equipment, facing Stan Wawrinka for the first time, he demonstrated unprecedented anger, smashing four racquets in just one minute during a change of ends! “I cannot have any regrets. Maybe the only regret I have is the message I gave by breaking those four racquets in Australia to the young fans,” he admitted a few years later after retirement. I consider him an underachiever. In spite of his modest height, his serve was a significant weapon at times, and his ground-strokes off both wings were exceptionally fluid. Moreover, he moved around the court with ease, and his heart-on-hand attitude always helped him garner support from the spectators. Nonetheless, as one commentator pointed out, “he loves women, wine, & singing” – with this free-spirited attitude, it’s not easy to maintain a consistently high level of play week by week for eleven months a year.
Trivia: he defeated all the best players born in the 80s he faced, except Novak Đoković (0-8 Head-to-Head), but came very close to doing so at Wimbledon ’07 when succumbed a five hour epic being within a few points to win each set he lost. Baghdatis had overcome the two-years-younger Serb (6-2, 2-6, 7-5) when they faced each other for the only time as juniors in 2002.
Career record: 349-274 [ 278 events ]
Career titles: 4
Highest ranking: No. 8
Best GS results:
Australian Open (runner-up 2006)
Wimbledon (semifinal 2006; quarterfinal 2007)
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