MARCOS BAGHDATIS is a showman not only on the court, but off it as well. His spontaneous remarks make the 22-year-old Cypriot a favourite of the media. The man from Limassol was at his colourful best during a interaction at the just-concluded Chennai Open.
How difficult was it to make it to the top, considering that you were the first world-class tennis player from Cyprus?
It wasn't easy. I just had my coach and brother to accompany me. Now of course, some of our players are present on the circuit.
We see a lot of emotions when you are on court. Do you play to win or make it a point to entertain the crowd?
When I am on court, I don't think of sharing emotions. Of course, the most important thing is to win, but if it comes (to entertain) naturally as you do it, then why not?
Has your rise given an impetus to the game back home?
I think so. Maybe it is the second sport, soccer is, of course, number one. I hear that more kids are taking up tennis and more people are interested in the game.
Has handling fame been difficult? Have you ever felt like running away from the spotlight?
Nothing is easy in life. It comes with our job. It is up to me to find a way to play good tennis. That's why I use my coach, my brother and family to share a bit of that.
Has coming from a big family helped you be a better player?
It is not only because I come from a big family. I left home at 14 (to train in France). But yes, every time I win, I try to give pleasure to my family.
Were you disappointed that you lost in the first round at the Chennai Open?
Not really, I have realised that as long as I win the important matches, like the Grand Slams, it is okay.
What is the difference between the Baghdatis who reached the Australian Open final in 2006 and the Baghdatis now?
That Australian Open just hit on me. I started to put pressure on myself and so every time I lost, I began to lose my confidence as well. But now, I can accept defeats.
What do you do away from tennis?
I don't read books. So, what do I do (runs his hand through his hair)? Oh, I do nothing (raises his eyebrows as if surprised with the discovery). I just stay with my friends, play games on the computer, surf the Internet. Oh, I am just like a woman (bursts into laughter)!
Your favourite tournament or city on the circuit?
Melbourne and Wimbledon.
If not a tennis player, what would you have been?
I don't know, but I would have liked to be a soccer player.