Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Archive for baghdatis

Hewitt v Baghdatis as it happened

Australian Open, Melbourne

Men’s third-round result:

L Hewitt (Aus) v M Baghdatis (Cyp)

4-6 7-5 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-3

By Sarah Holt

Fifth set: Hewitt 6-3 Baghdatis
Hewitt nicks the first point off Baghdatis on his serve, and the Cypriot thwacks the ball into the post for 0-30. Is he throwing it away? Baghdatis goes long to hand Hewitt three match points. The screams from the crowd reach a ridiculously high volume – and Baggy saves the first. This time it’s Hewitt’s turn to overshoot his forehand and there is just one match point left. He squanders that with another mishit forehand. A sneaky lob takes Hewitt to a fifth match point and a stunning return of serve seals it for Hewitt. He drops to the floor, the crowd get to the feet. His next opponent Djokovic – well he’s probably sleeping.

“Absolute classic. Incredible. Not the best tennis we’ve seen but the most drama.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Hewitt 5-3 Baghdatis
The Australian 19th seed roars and raises his fist as he stretches for a cross-court winner to move to 40-15. Hewitt slams down an ace to hold – can he close out the match this time?

1725: “If this goes any longer, they won’t even have to wake up for morning practice, they can simply cross over to one of the courts after the post-match interview.”
MildRoastNesCafe on 606

Hewitt 4-3 Baghdatis
Baghdatis stays in the hunt with a clean game.

Hewitt 4-2 Baghdatis
Hewitt is still very much up for the challenge in Melbourne and whips down a forehand to move promptly to 40-0. Baghdatis goes long and the Australian edges ahead again.

Hewitt 3-2 Baghdatis
Just checking through 606 and thanks for all your comments; LOTS to say on this match, and the players are still battling for the last word on court. Hewitt misses a break-point chance by skipping the ball into the tramlines. Here’s another one though, but Baggy saves it with a big forehand. A 27th ace from the Cypriot takes him to advantage but back to deuce we go as he nets. Hewitt saves deuce with a lovely forehand. Another break chance for Hewitt but Baggy saves deuce. Baggy advantage; and back to deuce. A fourth break point chance for Hewitt – but B saves it again, and wags his finger. Let’s start a new paragraph.

Baghdatis shoots the ball long to hand Hewitt yet another break chance – and he gets it. Bit of a shame to waste that paragraph there but nevermind.

“That was a mentally and physically demanding game to put it mildy.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Hewitt 2-2 Baghdatis
First spot of bother in the fifth as Hewitt slips to 0-30. A big serve saves him at 30-30 but he cannot find his legs for Baghdatis’s drop shot and here’s a break point at 30-40. A fierce inside-out forehand saves deuce and once again he digs deep and holds.

1657: “How are people going to get home? If you don’t have a car are there taxis or buses??”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd is already thinking of hometime.

Hewitt 1-2 Baghdatis
Another straightforward service game from Baghdatis.

1654: “I still favour Hewitt in this match. Baggy plays better behind than when ahead and Lleyton will never give up.”
Rafa fan on 606

Hewitt 1-1 Baghdatis
Hewitt still looks pretty determined out there and he’s still receiving plenty of support from the crowd, despite the fact that it’s, well, almost 4am over in Melbourne. The Australian scurries around the court and he holds to 15. Probably what both players need right now, apart from their beds, is a couple of service games under their belts.

Hewitt 0-1 Baghdatis
So the momentum is with Baghdatis now and he holds with a dominant serving display.

“It’s hard to believe we’re into the fifth, John.”
BBC Sport analyst Sam Smith

Fourth set:

Hewitt 6-7 Baghdatis
So, Hewitt delivers a super fast serve to edge to 3-2 and Baghdatis goes long to hand the Australian a mini breakthrough at 4-2. Baghdatis answers at 4-3 and then conjures another brilliant passing shot at 4-4. A flashing return takes the Cypriot to 5-4 in the breaker. Oh dear, we could be heading for a fifth here as Hewitt nets at 6-4. Hewitt goes long and Baghdatis sports a wide grin as we go into a fifth. Perhaps some of us are less pleased by the extension of this marathon match. Get the teas in.

Hewitt 6-6 Baghdatis
Baghdatis holds and here we go for the tie-breaker. “It’s going to be an edgy breaker.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

“Never disagree with John Lloyd. He’s like the British Yoda of tennis.”
High praise from Addicted_LouiseGG on 606

1634: “My heart can’t take this!”
Mhairi_S on 606

Hewitt 6-5 Baghdatis
Hewitt tries to motivate himself as he looks to get out of trouble at 30-30 on his serve. An ace will do it and Baghdatis nets to see Hewitt hold. That was a tough one, but he ends Baghdatis’s four-game run.

Hewitt 5-5 Baghdatis
So the players are still playing at 330 in the morning Melbourne time, which cannot be good for anyone. Baghdatis moves to 30-15 but he begins to get rattled by noises in the crowd, who are unsettling him as he tries to serve. It’s 30-30 – and the disruptive member of the audience is removed. The Cypriot’s regained his spark now and holds – to huge cheers.

“I did say there might be some more drama to come, but not like this. This is like a soap opera.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Hewitt 5-4 Baghdatis
Hewitt serves for the match for a second time. He reaches for an overhead for 30-15 but nets for 30-30. Is anyone going to finish this off? Come on, one of you. Uh-oh, Hewitt nets the ball to hand Baghdatis a chance to break back. He’s only gone and taken it. Baghdatis thumps his heart.

“This to me is not showing much respect to Hewitt. Baghdatis is walking around smiling and this is not the normal way in which he plays. He’s only doing it because he’s losing.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Hewitt 5-3 Baghdatis
Baghdatis looks pretty loose out there and he is looking really tired too. I wonder what he will have to say about the scheduling of the match? Hewitt seems to still be riding high on adrenalin and he moves the game on to deuce.

Baghdatis nets the ball to hand Hewitt his first match point but the 15th seed drops the ball over the net to deny him. Hewitt lashes the ball long and Baghdatis can’t seem to stop smiling. Hmmm that wide forehand soon sobers him up though. A fourth deuce now and Baghdatis stays alive.

1611 “Perhaps Baghdatis has decided that he needs sleep more than he needs to lose in the next round anyway…”
Cricketing_stargazer on 606

Hewitt 5-2 Baghdatis
Hang on a minute though. Hewitt falters to 0-30 and Baghdatis swings a one-hander right down the line for three break points. He nets to see one of them drift by and Hewitt races to retrieve the ball with a backhand smash for 30-40. The Australian can’t rescue the third and Baghdatis recovers one break.

Hewitt 5-1 Baghdatis
We don’t like lovely Lloydy to be wrong but maybe he is here. Hewitt draws out more errors from Baghdatis and the Cypriot plonks down a double-fault to hand the Australian a double break.

Hewitt 4-1 Baghdatis
Hewitt rolls on with another comfortable service game. But BBC Sport’s John Lloyd makes a prediction: “There could still be some drama left in this match. I think Baghdatis has got the game to break back.”

Hewitt 3-1 Baghdatis
Baghdatis looked a little lost sitting in his chair at the change of ends. He must hold here, if he is to have any chance of repeating his heroics of 2006. Not a great start; first point to Hewitt. The Aussie whips down another audacious forehand for 0-30 and Baghdatis goes long for 0-40. Baghdatis does enough to reel the game back to deuce and stays alive with a precarious hold.

“Hewitt just lost that a little bit and credit to Baghdatis for hanging in there. He would have been out of the match if he’d lost there.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Hewitt 3-0 Baghdatis
Well, it seems not everyone is gripped by this late-night thriller. An anonymous punter has texted in to say that they’ve just seen Frank Lampard shopping in London. I digress, Hewitt delivers another aggressive game to hold.

Hewitt 2-0 Baghdatis
Baghdatis looks hot and bothered as he stutters to 30-30 and steadies himself with an ace. Hewitt is at him again though and pegs him back at deuce. The Australia forces Baghdatis into another unforced error . . . . and another as he breaks for a 2-0 lead.

Hewitt 1-0 Baghdatis
Things are still going Hewitt’s way as he wins the opening game of the fourth, and if anything the crowd seems to be getting noisier.

1545: “Whoever wins this match will not likely get to bed till 5am, after the press conference and winding down. Then, in another day they have to come out and face Novak Djokovic, who had a walk in the park in the middle of the afternoon.” Hewittcmon on 606 Third set:

Hewitt 7-5 Baghdatis
Hewitt seems full of fire now and races to two set points. Baghdatis pulls back to 30-40 as the Australian goes long. Another long, long rally and Hewitt comes out on top again to take a two-sets-to-one lead.

“I did not believe that Hewitt had any shot in this match.”
Straight-talking BBC Sport analyst Sam Smith

Hewitt 6-5 Baghdatis
Pumped up and pointing his finger, Hewitt holds to win his third game in the row. The BBC team in Melbourne report the stadium is still half full despite it being almost 3am down under. And here’s me complaining about having to get up early for work – at least I get to sit down and occasionally eat biscuits.

Hewitt 5-5 Baghdatis
Hewitt has been taking points from Baghdatis all through this set but just hasn’t been able to convert them. This time he steals 0-30 from the Cypriot – and after a challenge proves Baggy wrong, it’s 0-40. And here’s the “Come on” as the 15th seed hits wildly again to hand Hewitt the break back.

Hewitt 4-5 Baghdatis
Baghdatis singles to his supporters as he brings up set point with a fierce passing shot but Hewitt just does enough to force deuce. The Australian holds and he goes back to his seat. The crowd, meanwhile, are singing on into the early hours.

Hewitt 3-5 Baghdatis
Thanks to fellow East Midlander Paresh for taking over duties whilst I was on the extended bathroom break. So what did I miss? A break by Baghdatis, but Hewitt continuing to battle. He’s at in again here as he claws back 30 points on the Cypriot’s serve. Baghdatis tries to glide the ball over the net but fails and it’s deuce. More frustration for Hewitt, who slams down his racquet as Baghdatis holds.

1517: “How on earth do the organisers justify starting a Grand Slam singles match at (almost) midnight? Amazing that the players agreed to it.”
HereComesEverybody on 606

Hewitt 3-4 Baghdatis
Hewitt beats Baghdatis all ends up with a tremendous backhand and, after the traumas at the start of the set, he’s holding serve quite easily at the moment.

Hewitt 2-4 Baghdatis
Baghdatis comfortably holds on after taking a couple of anti-inflammatory pills – how long will he go on for? You have to think Hewitt would be favourite if it goes to five? Will anyone in Australia be awake at that point?

Hewitt 2-3 Baghdatis
It’s well past two in the morning in Melbourne and this could go on and on – this pair are mixing brilliant winners with tired mistakes and Hewitt does enough to avoid further trouble.

Hewitt 1-3 Baghdatis
The quality level has definitely been cranked up by these two, with Hewitt returning much better and scampering around more like his usual self. The Aussie comes back from 40-15 to deuce but Baghdatis fires his 14th ace to hold serve after a series of errors from both men.

Hewitt 1-2 Baghdatis
What ankle problem? Blistering groundstrokes give Baghdatis two more chances to break at 15-40. This time Hewitt is wide and it’s advantage Cyprus.

Hewitt 1-1 Baghdatis
Hewitt correctly works the ball around the court to give Baghdatis’s ankle a good test. The pressure’s on at 0-30 and Hewitt soon has his first break-point of the set with mistakes creeping into his opponent’s game. Baghdatis responds fantastically with some big serving and good anticipation at the net.

Hewitt 1-0 Baghdatis
Hewitt nets one backhand and is long with another to give his opponent two golden opportunities for an early break at 15-40. Both are squandered but Baghdatis fires another winner down the line to create break-point number three. Hewitt wrong-foots the Cypriot, who hurts his already strapped right ankle and there is a lengthy delay while he is treated. When play resumes Hewitt fires down an ace and follows it up with another good serve to finally take the opening game.

“Hewitt still has not played well and it was a really good chance for Baghdatis to take that two-set lead. The crowd would have gone very quiet. Now it’s very difficult to predict where this one’s going to go.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Second set:

Hewitt 7-5 Baghdatis
Is there another opening for Hewitt here? He moves to 0-30 but he cannot answer the Cypriot’s second serve and that’s one point back to Baghdatis. Hewitt nets again for 30-30 and tosses away his racquet in frustration. Another tight rally and Hewitt sneak it for his first set point. Baghdatis goes long – and the crowd are on their feet as Hewitt draws level.

Hewitt 6-5 Baghdatis
Another tight game but the Australian number one does enough to hold.

Hewitt 5-5 Baghdatis
The match is much more competitive now. Hewitt manages to steal 30 points off Baghdatis but the 15th seed holds, to win his third game in a row.

Hewitt 5-4 Baghdatis
A difficult start for Hewitt as he serves for the set. Baghdatis moves to 0-30, and Hewitt cannot get his backhand return over the net and slides to 0-40. The Australian nets and we are back on serve. Which is bad news for me, as I was hoping for an extended bathroom break. Oh well.

Hewitt 5-3 Baghdatis
A dominant game from the 15th seed and Hewitt must serve for the set.

Hewitt 5-2 Baghdatis
Is anyone going to save me from all the texts about Kevin Keegan? No? Ok back to the tennis.

After some brilliant play Baghdatis has break back point. Plucky Australian Hewitt saves deuce with a big serve. The Cypriot isn’t letting him get away easy though as he casually throws down a big forehand for a second deuce. Hewitt bundles into the net with a two-handed volley but then dumps the ball wide. Or is it? Hewitt gets lucky with a challenge and here’s that fist again as he holds.

Hewitt 4-2 Baghdatis
Nice stuff from Baghdatis as he stretches to slice the ball over the net for 30-15 and the Cypriot looks lively again as he holds.

Hewitt 4-1 Baghdatis
Hewitt asks for an unidentified sticky patch to be wiped off the back of the court and after the umpire gets his towel out, play resumes. The Australian 19th seed efficiently consolidates the break.

“Lleyton Hewitt has got the edge now and seems to have taken charge.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Hewitt 3-1 Baghdatis
What can Hewitt do this time? The Australian chips away at Baghdatis and gets back to deuce. The Cypriot challenges a call on his forehand – but it is wide and Hewitt has break point. The Australian lashes down a swinging forehand to take it and he pumps his fist all the way down to the floor. Bit of a sloppy game from Baghdatis and Hewitt takes advantage.

Hewitt 2-1 Baghdatis
Hewitt is under a bit of pressure on his serve but moves to 40-30, and this match hasn’t really come alive yet.

Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure that Sara Cox is on air on Radio One now and so this text is probably not meant for the Hewitt-Baghdatis commentary. Still, I’m sure Hewitt and Baggy would love to wish the newly-weds well so . . .

“Hi sara, can u give a watchya to russell and jodine. We got married yesterday in northampton and now we are driving to lake district wiv the dogs for our honeymoon.”
Russell and Jodine via text

Hewitt 1-1 Baghdatis
Squeak, squeak, squeak – Hewitt is running around the court to try and close down Baghdatis. Well, he claws back a couple of points at 40-30 but then the 15th seed closes the door.

Hewitt 1-0 Baghdatis
A better game from Hewitt as he holds to 15. The crowd respond by singing, erm, a rather tuneless version of the theme from Rocky.

1330: “They wont mind, surely they get overtime? And a nice place to work.”
Alex66 on 606 (concern grows – or not – for the staff at Melbourne Park)

First set:

Hewitt 4-6 Baghdatis
So, four points to win the set. A couple of aces won’t hurt for starters. Hewitt goes long to hand the 15th seed three set points. The Australian saves one with a lashing diagonal shot at the net, but ace number seven sees Baghdatis hold and take the first set.

Hewitt 4-5 Baghdatis
Now then, Baghdatis carves out a chance for himself as he sends the ball down the line for 30-40. A double fault from Hewitt sees the 15th seed break.

“Disappointing. That looked like someone who was very rusty. Lleyton should have broken Baghdatis in the last game, he made two forehand errors and double-faulted twice here.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Hewitt 4-4 Baghdatis
Maybe a chance for Hewitt here, as he reads the Baghdatis serve pretty well and moves to 0-30. Not so good on the next shot mind, and he knows it too, muttering ‘hit it’ to himself. A Baghdatis error sees Hewitt take two break points. One goes begging and then there is a huge roar from the Cypriot as he saves deuce. There are even more shouts as he holds. Hmmm, who knows what kind of celebration he’ll come out with if he wins the match.

Hewitt 4-3 Baghdatis
There’s plenty of atmosphere at the Rod Laver Arena, with chants of “let’s go Lleyton, let’s go”. He could probably do with the encouragement to be fair as he is taken to deuce by Baghdatis but manages to keep his nose in front.

Hewitt 3-3 Baghdatis
Longest rally of the match so far, but Hewitt skids the ball into the tramlines to lose out at 15-15. Baghdatis relies on his huge serves to get him out of a spot of bother here and we stay level.

Hewitt 3-2 Baghdatis
Hewitt looks focused as he holds to 15. There is his trademark chirrup of “Come on” as he returns to his seat.

“I think this match could come down to the physical side of the contest. Neither of them will blow the other one off the court with power so it could be a case of who wants it more. From that respect, Hewitt is the favourite.”
BBC Sport analyst John Lloyd

1300: “Surely this (late start) will put a terrible strain on catering staff working there?”
Whatthe1979 on 606

Hewitt 2-2 Baghdatis
Hewitt moves to 15-30 on the Baghdatis serve but the Cypriot bangs down a thudding serve to level it up. He comes in to the net to dip the ball over for 40-30 and another clever floater sees him hold.

Hewitt 2-1 Baghdatis
Hewitt digs out a big serve to recover to deuce as Baghdatis puts the Aussie under pressure. He finds another one to take advantage and sees off the early threat.

Hewitt 1-1 Baghdatis
There will be some support for Baghdatis too in Melbourne, of course. He is a bit of a fans’ favourite after getting all the way to the final in 2006 – where he ended up losing to a certain Mr Federer. The 15th seed also holds.

Hewitt 1-0 Baghdatis
The crowd quietens and it is Hewitt who serves the first ball of the hyped match at, um, 1148 in the evening in Melbourne. It is a good start for the Australian who holds.

1240: Here they come; local favourite Lleyton Hewitt and Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis walk through the long tunnel under the Rod Laver Arena.

There are a few boos as Baghdatis takes to the court. He became embroiled in controversy this week when he was seen in a video apparently chanting anti-Turkish slogans.

He asked, in the wake of the incident, that he now be allowed to focus on his tennis.

And that is what will we do now as the players are warming up and are two minutes away from starting the match.

Story from BBC SPORT


Nadal’s king, but these 5 can usurp the throne

Matthew Cronin /

Breaking news! Rafael Nadal can be beat on clay — at least once every two years.

But despite his three-set loss to top-ranked Roger Federer in the Hamburg final, the Spaniard is still the favorite to win his third consecutive French Open title and become the first man since all-time great Bjorn Borg to pull off a triple. Here are the five best bets to take his title:

  • Roger Federer: Muddled in his longest slump since he became No. 1, Federer scraped and clawed his way to his third Hamburg title, needing three sets to overcome Juan Monaco, David Ferrer and Carlos Moya. Then in the final against Nadal, whom he had never beaten in five attempts on clay, he rediscovered his ferocious backhand, stepped further inside the court with his backhand to pick up the Spaniard’s high bouncing balls earlier and hit straight through his exhausted foe.Even though it was clear that Nadal had finally lost his legs after an amazing 81-match win streak on clay, the victory was a much-needed boost of confidence for Federer, who now believes that if he finds the zone, continues to hit out, serves huge and returns intelligently, that his chase of the calendar year Grand Slam is no quixotic quest. But if Federer is to win his first Roland Garros crown, he must play cleanly through his first five matches because he doesn’t want to enter the final weekend with tread-worn wheels.
  • Novak Djokovic: The hottest young player on tour has found his feet on clay and is looking all the part of a top five player this year. John McEnroe loves this guy’s composure and how he goes after the ball. He’s beaten Nadal on hardcourts, and he won Warsaw on clay.Interestingly, even though he’s a Serbian who has slid on plenty of clay courts in his life, Djokovic prefers faster surfaces. But he’s a good mover who can launch his forehand and rarely backs off the ball against elite players. He just turned 20 and is still a little immature, but unlike some of the veterans, he doesn’t fear Rafa or Roger. He’ll get after it, which is a sure sign of a future Slam champ.
  • Nikolay Davydenko: Hurt much of the year, the Russian rebounded in Rome with a semifinal appearance and a near win over Nadal. If he can find motivation — and find some heart — he’s a decent threat to reach the French Open semis (and maybe the final if Fed fizzles). He’s the tour’s most unknown top-5 player, but is a true backboard with pop and savvy.
  • Fernando Gonzalez: The Chilean slumped after the Australian Open final, overplaying and frequently losing his composure. The 26-year-old has huge weapons and a much-improved backhand, but he can be impatient and lose his focus. On clay, that’s a death sentence.Gonzo did revive himself at the Italian Open, reaching the final, but Nadal ran circles around him there and in Hamburg. If he can avoid the Spaniard until late in the tournament and catches fire, he can upset anyone on a great day. But he needs to show the same spunk he did Down Under.
  • Guillermo Canas: After a lengthy doping suspension, the veteran Argentine has run an incredible race back into top 25, grinding nearly every week since last fall and taking Federer down twice at Indian Wells and Miami.In his six appearances at Roland Garros, he’s played nine monstrous five-setters, winning five of them. Even though he can stay on court for eons, Canas has to be more of a risk-taker this year if he’s to pass the quarterfinals. Playing possum isn’t going to cut it as the tournament wears on.While the ATP Tour isn’t deep at the top level of the game, it’s near fathomless with men who have quarterfinal possibilities. Here are 10 other men who can reach the French Open final eight:
  • Graceful Spaniard Tommy Robredo
  • The talented yet erratic French hopeful Richard Gasquet
  • Czech powerballer Tomas Berdych
  • Argentine veteran David Nalbandian
  • Tireless Spaniard David Ferrer
  • The improving Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela
  • 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero
  • The up-and-down Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis
  • Argentine teen Juan Martin Del Potro
  • And two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.Unless they receive a very sweet draw, don’t expect American top 10ers Andy Roddick and James Blake to reach the second week. They are bedeviled by the dirt.