Baghdatis Ready To Start New Chapter At Wimbledon
Wimbledon, Great Britain
by ATP Staff|
Marcos Baghdatis is ready to start a new chapter of his career at Wimbledon.
The Cypriot, once an Australian Open finalist and placed as high as No. 8 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, has plummeted to World No. 115 and in need of a wild card to compete at The Championships, where he was a semi-finalist in 2006 (l. to Nadal).
But, a sabbatical from the ATP World Tour during the past three months, spent at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, has breathed new life into the 29-year-old Baghdatis, who is ready put smiles on the faces of the fans, as well as his own, once more.
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“I think it was a huge break for me,” Baghdatis told ATPWorldTour.com. “Mentally it recovered me from all those years of travelling. All those [years] running after [ranking] points, running from tournament to tournament.
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“It was great also to spend some time with my wife (WTA player – Karolina Sprem) and daughter (Zahara). Actually, I made the mistake not to spend so much time with them since she was born (in October 2012). [I was] traveling a lot. I think that tired me a lot mentally. To get a chance and spend three months with them was just fantastic. I should do that more often, I think,” explained Baghdatis, who will return to Florida after Wimbledon to train there until the US Open, with the possibility of staying longer if it continues to suit so well.
“I am back. I am more fresh and I want to play and I’m more happy to be here than I was before,” said the Limassol native. “I think that is the difference. I’ll be playing less tournaments from now on and just enjoying family time and working really hard on my fitness and just doing the things I have to do. I think I have been working hard all of my life. It’s just that now I am doing it more in the right way and taking more care of my body and trying to spend more time with family and make myself more happy than I was before.”
The new approach brought instant success for Baghdatis. On his return to action, the Cypriot triumphed at the Aegon Trophy in Nottingham, an ATP Challenger Tour event, beating the likes of Benjamin Becker and Marinko Matosevic en route.
He looked set to back it up with a run at The Queen’s Club, but so many matches over the course of seven days has been a rarity for Baghdatis in the past 12 months and tightness in his back and shoulder forced him to rest for a few days before his Wimbledon preparations could begin.
“Honestly it felt great being back,” said Baghdatis. “I know it’s just a Challenger, but I feel I had a great week, playing great matches. It’s not the win, it’s the way I played and how I prepared for the tournament.”
Another difference for Baghdatis in this new phase of his career is that he is going it alone, for the time being at least, and attempting to play the free, instinctive tennis that carried him to such success in the early years of his career. Working with just a fitness coach, Baghdatis is relishing the freedom to make his own decisions on the court.
“I feel good because I have nobody telling what to do on the court,” explained Baghdatis. “Especially I have no one telling me technical things and this and that. The next coach I’ll find is just to have somebody around to give me confidence and just push me in the way I want to play tennis and not the way he thinks I should play.
“I am very happy with the way [I played in Nottingham], especially because I found again the rhythm. [I was] the player I want to be, with the attitude I want to have on court. It was the way I want to be and think on court without having somebody in my head judging me. I’m that kind of a person and I am very happy the way things are going lately.
“I can do a lot of things on court. There is no limit for me. Some coaches were pushing me to just do one thing, like being aggressive and going forward. But that’s not the way I see myself playing. I can play different styles for different opponents, find my way through.”
Baghdatis will open his ninth Wimbledon campaign against Dustin Brown, the dangerous German who toppled Lleyton Hewitt at the All England Club last year and who took out Rafael Nadal in Halle last week. Baghdatis, though, is relishing his return to the big stage, where he has played some of the most entertaining matches of his career. As well as a semi-final showing in 2006, he was a quarter-finalist in 2007, losing to Novak Djokovic in five sets.
“It’s a privilege to be at Wimbledon again,” said Baghdatis. “I’ll try my best. I’m not seeded. I hope I’ll be lucky and have a good first few rounds. If that happens, I’ll be ready for anything. Every time I’ve lost there, it’s been against great players. I love playing there. I like the atmosphere there. I’m just going to go out there and enjoy my time and make the crowd enjoy it too.”