Profile: Marcos Baghdatis
31-year-old Marcos Baghdatis has been a professional tennis player for 14 years and is engrained as one of the most loved characters on the Tour. In his own words, he plays tennis for the fans. He thrives on a packed stadium, which has been proven at ASB Tennis Arena this week as he’s steamrolled through the draw to the soundtrack of chanting fans.
“I’m happy whenever the crowd likes, not me winning, but likes the match that we give out there. That’s very important. Me personally, I play for that, I play for the crowd, I play for those emotions that the crowd give you when you make a winner, when you win a match, when you make an ace. Crowds give you all these emotions. I’m happy that they like the way I’m playing and the matches I give out there and I will try and keep it up,” said Baghdatis.
A decade ago he was top 10 in the world. It was a major feat for the Cypriot, with his country of 1.1 million people never producing such a sports star before. That year, 2006, he reached the final of the Australian Open, the semi-finals of Wimbledon and peaked at 8 in the world.
11 years on, he told reporters “The ball is getting heavier and heavier that’s for sure. It’s hard but I’m happy right now that I’m not injured anymore and my body is feeling healthy and when my body is feeling healthy I can play against anybody and have a chance to win. The most important thing for me right now is to keep healthy.”
He’s been consistently a top 100 player since he was teen, and back inside the top 50 for the last 12 months. The Cypriot reached the round of 16 in the 2016 US Open and is building momentum. Last year he was injury free and managed to play more tournaments than he had in the last three years. Baghdatis says he trained well in the off-season, adding “I’m well in my head, well in my body, I’m fit and I don’t feel any injuries, don’t feel any pain anywhere. There is no distractions.”
This is his third time playing in Auckland, with his previous results both first-round losses in 2006 and 2014. Three years on, with his wife and two children under-5 in tow, he’s a more focused, content man. His 4-year-old is often seen with a racquet in hand, and scrambled onto Centre Court to celebrate with her father after his quarter-final win on Thursday.
He believes his best years are ahead of him.