MARCOS Baghdatis bowed out of the 2009 Australian Open with his head held high after an amazing match against favourite Novak Djokovic, after losing 3 sets to 1 after their fourth round match up.
The Cypriot pushed the world’s number 3 player to four sets before succumbing 6-1, 7-6 (7/1), 6-7 (5/7), 6-2 in a match that started at 11:10 pm and finished at 2:26 am Melbourne time.
“It’s big relief,” Djokovic, nicknamed “The Joker”, said after the match.
“I was really happy to get through in the fourth set.
“It could really go either way. We had long rallies, even though the results don’t show the real picture.
“Once he gets into the rhythm, he’s one of the toughest opponents on this surface and I was aware of that.”
Djokovic raced through the opening set in 25 minutes but the rest of the match was much tighter as Baghdatis, a finalist at Melbourne Park three years ago, began to find his rhythm after a slow start.
Djokovic fought back from a break down to win the second in a tiebreak but Baghdatis won the third, also in a tiebreak, as the world number three starting to show signs of tiring.
As usual, the Cypriot enjoyed tremendous support of Greek and Cypriot fans who packed the stadium, singing and chanting for Baghdatis non-stop.
Djokovic regained the initiative when he broke Baghdatis at the start of the fourth then broke him again before serving out for victory after three-and-a-quarter hours on centre court.
“I feel more confident the more wins I have under my belt,” Djokovic said.
“It’s logical. I did have a slow start in the tournaments before the Australian Open but this was my priority.
Djokovic, the defending champion said “We waited for three-and-a-half or four hours to get on the court so it was really hard to warm up. Actually we warmed up five times and then got cold again.”
Baghdatis could not have been pleased about the Australian Open’s late matches after he was kept up to 1:15 am playing America’s Mardy Fish.
“It’s very tough to do but it’s part of the job,” said Baghdatis, who played a match against Lleyton Hewitt last year that finished at 4.34 am, the latest finish in grand slam history.
“I didn’t have a lot of confidence because I didn’t play for seven months [last year]…so I’m pretty happy with the tournament I played.
“I played four matches, I won three. My objective was to play in the second week of the Aussie Open so I made it by three hours.”
After almost six months of absence from tennis courts, Baghdatis proved he remains a force to be reckoned with in Grand Slam tennis and is certain to rise rapidly from his current ATP ranking of 97, having just reached the fourth round in Melbourne.
The final of the Men’s draw was to be contested by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The result was unavailable at the time of print.