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Everybody can beat everybody: Baghdatis

india Updated: Jul 06, 2006 12:11 IST
Reuters

Marcos Baghdatis walked away from Roland Garros earlier this year confused and demoralised after a second round defeat at the French Open.

The 20-year-old Cypriot said he was struggling to come to terms with being thrust suddenly into the spotlight after reaching the final of the Australian Open.

That run, which included victories over Andy Roddick, Ivan Ljubicic and David Nalbandian, made him a national hero in his home country but his results since have been mediocre.

Even at Wimbledon the doubts persisted when he was taken to five sets by 367th-ranked British wildcard Alan Mackin in a scrappy first round contest.

All that changed, however, with a scintillating display to beat Andy Murray in straight sets in round four and he followed that on Wednesday, beating Lleyton Hewitt 6-1 5-7 7-6 6-2 to reach the semi-finals.

Any talk of a flash in the pan has been banished.

"I had some doubts in the middle of the year, some small injuries, but now I'm getting confident again, feeling the ball good, playing good tennis," said Baghdatis.

"Here I am in the semis of a grand slam again, especially Wimbledon."

Baghdatis, who left home at 14 to join a tennis academy in Paris, said he now feels better equipped to deal with the emotions and expectations that go with the territory, even if he was hit by an attack of nerves against Hewitt.

"I'm calmer on court now and maybe after the match I'm more relaxed and try not to lose so much energy," he said.

"In the middle of the second set (against Hewitt) I started realising I'm beating Hewitt. I'm one set up and two breaks up and I'm in the quarters playing for the semis."

"I started thinking a bit and started to choke a bit. But the important thing is I got through," he added.

Baghdatis appears older than his years, and he admits his unconventional childhood made him grow up fast.

"I went to Paris to play tennis because it was not possible to do it in Cyprus," he said.

"I stayed there for seven years, so I didn't see my parents much. It was very difficult for a kid of 14 to go into another country where you don't know the language."

"But the French family that I was living with they showed me so much love. All the coaches I had believed in me so much."

That belief now appears fully justified as Baghdatis looks ahead to a Wimbledon semi-final against either Rafael Nadal or Jarko Nieminen.

Asked if he can go all the way, he said, "Why not, I'm in the semi-final. Everybody can beat everybody."

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