Baghdatis stuns Federer, faces down three match points

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis stunned World No. 1 Roger Federer in a Tuesday night classic at the BNP Paribas Open, fighting off three match points to oust the three-time champion 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(4) at the year’s first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournament.

“Best win of my career,” said the 24-year-old Baghdatis. “I think that says everything. I cannot say I'm not happy. I'm very happy. A lot of emotions are going through right now. It's the best win of my career. I lost a lot of matches against those top guys, and it's a relief to win a match like that after being out for two years, having some tough moments. It's a great moment for me. I'll try to enjoy it.”
Federer closed the opening set with a break, and looked poised to clinch the victory in similar fashion as he held two match points on the Cypriot’s serve at 5-4. But instead of an early night for the Swiss, Baghdatis pushed back – winning the next four points, breaking Federer in the ensuing game and then serving out the set.
Although the World No. 1 built up a 4-1 lead in the third set, he failed to maintain the advantage as Baghdatis broke back in the seventh game. Federer put himself in position close the match at 6-5 as he put away a forehand volley at the net to earn a third match point, but placed a backhand into the net.
Federer, who finished the match with 46 unforced errors, gifted Baghdatis the mini-break at 4-4 in the tie-break as a backhand return sailed wide and Baghdatis won the next two points, claiming his biggest career win after Federer was unable to return his serve on match point.
“You cannot be aggressive the whole match,” said the No. 27 seed. “You have to choose the points that you have to be aggressive. You have to be smart. You have to change the game. I think that's what I did well today. Roger was, I can say, a bit too aggressive. He was missing a lot of balls, and I was more calm than him today.”
Federer said: “It was a decent match, but maybe wrong choices at the wrong time for me. Maybe going for too much, maybe playing too passively. That's not something you can really work on. That comes through playing matches, and that's what I need. I hope to get more of it in Miami, but I will definitely play a lot of practice sets, that's for sure, until then.”
After the match, Baghdatis got on his knees and kissed the court at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The Cypriot, who had lost to Federer in their first six encounters including the 2006 Australian Open final, told the crowd, “Seven is my lucky number.”
Prior to Tuesday, the highest-ranked opponent Baghdatis had defeated was then-World No. 3 Andy Roddick in the fourth round of the 2006 Australian Open.
It was the first time since 2006 that Federer had failed to close out a win after holding match point. He had been unable to convert his two match points against Rafael Nadal in the final of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Rome before falling to the Spaniard in a fifth-set tie-break.
Federer was playing in his first tournament since winning his 16th Grand Slam in January at the Australian Open. He had been briefly sidelined with a lung infection before making his return this week in Indian Wells.
“I think as the tournament would have gone forward I would have found my groove more and more, and who knows what would have happened?” he said. “But I don't need to worry about that anymore. It's about resting because I do feel the first match in my body. It's something that always is tough, coming from a long layover and all of a sudden playing matches. But, the season is long. There's no need to panic here.”

Date: 16.03.2010, Source: Indian Wells


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