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Baghdatis beats Malisse to reach ATP final

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Baghdatis beats Malisse to reach ATP final

Postby Lit » Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:31 am

WASHINGTON: Eighth seed Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus recovered from a second-set ankle injury to beat Belgium's Xavier Malisse 6-2, 7-5 on Saturday and advance to the final of the ATP Washington Classic.

Baghdatis will face the winner of a later semi-final between Argentina's David Nalbandian and Croatian fourth seed Marin Cilic in Sunday's championship match of the 1.4 million-dollar hardcourt tournament, a US Open tuneup event.

Baghdatis, ranked 25th, reached his first career US final and seeks his fifth career ATP title, the first since last January at Sydney. A title could put him in the top 20 after a rankings slide last year out of the top 150.

Read more: Baghdatis beats Malisse to reach ATP final - Top Stories - Tennis - Sports - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/spor ... z0vyRHb3T6
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Postby Lit » Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:34 am

Marcos Baghdatis tops weary Xavier Malisse to reach Legg Mason final

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 714_2.html

By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 7, 2010; 8:13 PM

After dominating the opening set, Marcos Baghdatis found himself facing break point midway through the second set of his semifinal at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic Saturday when he turned an ankle while trying to change directions in a split-second burst.

Baghdatis crumpled to the court, fearing serious injury, and called for a trainer. But before help arrived, his opponent, Xavier Malisse, ran to an ice chest, filled a bag with ice and brought it over to halt the swelling as quickly as possible.

It was hardly the turning point of the match. The injury proved minor, and Baghdatis bounced back to claim a 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) victory and, with it, a spot in Sunday's final against Croatia's Marin Cilic or David Nalbandian of Argentina, who were to square off Saturday evening.

But it was a defining moment in a match of admirable sportsmanship, extended rallies and smart shot-making (particularly by Baghdatis) - a welcome change from the lackluster performances and serving pyrotechnics that detracted from much of the competition earlier in the tournament.

At 6 feet and 6-1, respectively, Baghdatis and Malisse are athletes of average height who earned top-20 rankings a few years ago by virtue of the variety in their games (replete with drop shots, slices and volleys) and the intelligence of their approach rather than one freakishly unplayable shot.

In the case of both, wrist injuries sent them tumbling from the top 100. This week's Legg Mason has showcased the next step in their respective returns to form (Baghdatis is now ranked 25th; Malisse, 62nd).

On Saturday the 25-year-old Baghdatis was the more fit, steady and patient. And it served him well - along with his knack for conjuring aces (11 in all) at critical junctures - against Malisse, 30, who from the outset of the 1 hour 47 minute match showed signs of fatigue. It was Malisse's fourth match in five days - three of them energy-sapping three-setters.

As a result, the Belgian was eager to force the action- a bit too eager, it turned out, to try high-risks shots in an effort to end points. The result was 34 unforced errors to Baghdatis's 21.

"You have to hit one or two extra shots to beat him," Malisse said of Baghdatis. "I think I over-hit trying to beat him."

Baghdatis said he was fully aware that Malisse was feeling the effects of his difficult road to the semifinals. He was equally aware of Malisse's potent forehand and his penchant for teeing off on balls struck at sharp angles.

So Baghdatis was careful to do two things: Hit the ball in the middle of the court, denying Malisse the angles he loves, and keep the ball in play as long as he could, in hopes of wearing the Belgian down.

"For sure I knew coming in today the conditions would be tough, but it was an advantage to me," said Baghdatis, a native of Cyprus, where the heat and humidity offer ideal preparation for an early August workout in Washington. "I am a bit fitter than him. I played it smart, kept the ball [in play]. I went for the right shot at the right time."

It's doubtful the tactic will be enough in Sunday's final, whether Baghdatis's opponent is the 23-year-old Cilic, who at 6-6 boasts a booming serve and punishing groundstrokes, or the 28-year-old Nalbandian, who has forged a career on retrieving balls until his opponents keel over.

The road back to the top 25 has taken Baghdatis through humbling terrain, such as a Challenger event (one rung below the top-level ATP Tour) in Uzbekistan. But Baghdatis said he had few options, other than dropping down a level, if he wanted to re-build his confidence and ranking. As a Cypriot, he noted, it's not easy to persuade tournament directors to grant him a wildcard given the paucity of ticket-buyers and TV viewers from his home country. And Cyprus doesn't have an ATP or Challenger tournament of its own.

Saturday at the Legg Mason, Baghdatis showed glimpses of the player he was in 2006, when he reached the final of the Australian Open and semifinals of Wimbledon. But it was a measure of how far he has fallen, at least in terms of sponsors' eyes, that he competed in a plain shirt adorned with the flag of Cyprus and the slogan "Love Cyprus," lacking a sponsorship deal with a major clothing manufacturer.

He broke Malisse in the third and fifth games of the opening set. And on the rare occasions when the Belgian threatened to break back, Baghdatis blasted an ace or service winner.

Malisse found new energy in the second set, and fired a forehand winner crosscourt for a break point with Baghdatis serving at 3-4. Then Malisse struck a forehand just behind Baghdatis, who was sprinting to his left. That's when he tried reversing directions and twisted his ankle.

"I was scared, so I fell down," Baghdatis said later. "I didn't want to just stand up and start walking."

As for Malisse bringing him the ice bag, Baghdatis said he would have done the same. "I think it's nice," he added. "But it doesn't happen every day."
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Postby Lit » Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:36 am

Baghdatis stops Malisse to gain Washington final

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6750HI20100807

(Reuters) - Eighth seed Marcos Baghdatis blended some timely serving with his tiebreak artistry to cruise past Xavier Malisse 6-2 7-6 Saturday and reach the final of the Washington Classic.

The 25th-ranked Baghdatis landed only 43 percent of his first serves on a humid day in Washington but was broken only once to reach his first-ever final in the United States.

"It was a tough one but I played really, really smart," said Baghdatis. "I played the perfect game to beat Xavier. I played the right shot at the right time.

"I kept the ball in the court. I was fitter than him."

Baghdatis, searching for his second title of the year, will play the winner of Saturday's other semi-final between fourth-seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, ranked 13th in the world, and 2002 Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian of Argentina.

The affable Cypriot was successful on only 36 percent of his first serves in the opening set but blasted five aces by Malisse and never lost his serve, facing just one break point.

Malisse was error-prone in the opening frame, especially from the backhand side, but the 30-year-old Belgian found his stride in the second set with his booming forehand.

"When you lose 6-2 you basically have nothing to lose and you go for your shots a little more," said Malisse, ranked 62nd and unseeded in Washington. "Once they start going in, your confidence starts going up."

Baghdatis broke Malisse in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead but the Belgian returned the favor in the next game to prolong the match and force a tiebreaker.

Baghdatis raced to a 6-1 lead in the tiebreaker before winning 7-4 when Malisse punched a backhand into the net.

Baghdatis, who has an impressive 11-3 record in tiebreakers this year, said he believes he has an advantage when a set reaches 6-6.

"I'm good at important points," he said with a smile. "That's an advantage to me. I like the pressure. I'm smart. I do the right thing. The first two points today I had aces.

"I put pressure on the other guy with the return. I'm just so focused."

Malisse, who had three three-set matches this week, admitted he did not have much left in the tank but said the difference was Baghdatis's ability to raise his game at the right time.

"He served better, especially on important points," he said. "I had deuce on three or four games on his serve in the first set and every time he came up with a big serve. Same in the tiebreaker. He deserved to win."

(Editing by Dave Thompson)
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Postby Lit » Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:39 am

BAGHDATIS TO BATTLE NALBANDIAN FOR TITLE IN D.C.

http://www.tsn.ca/tennis/story/?id=329840

Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Eighth-seeded Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis and Argentine David Nalbandian each won their respective semifinal matches on Saturday at the $1.402 million Legg Mason Tennis Classic, a hardcourt U.S. Open Series event.

Baghdatis recorded a 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) victory over Xavier Malisse in 1 hour, 47 minutes to advance to his ninth career final and second this year. His last title came early in the year in Sydney.

The former Australian Open finalist and Wimbledon semifinalist, Baghdatis will face Nalbandian in the final. The Argentine handled fourth-seeded Croat Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2 in 1 hour, 13 minutes.

Nalbandian holds a 10-10 career mark in title matches. He hasn't won a final since Sydney in January 2009.

Baghdatis leads the all-time series with Nalbandian by a 3-1 count. However, the two haven't met since Wimbledon in 2007.

The 2010 Legg Mason champion will pocket $261,500.

IT'S YOUR! CALL
Karma: 60 Yeahs/0 BoosYeahBoo

GerryJames
4 hours ago

MARCOS the BagMan, congrats on bagging a big semis victory - glad to see him back to old self on winning trail + best of luck in the final vs a very promising young tall cool collective headed Cilic shud be a beauty! Report this comment!report this comment
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Marcos Baghdatis (Photo: GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
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Postby Lit » Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:42 am

Nalbandian to face Baghdatis in Washington final

By Jim Slater (AFP)

WASHINGTON — Former world number three David Nalbandian advanced to his first ATP final since January of last year, ousting Croatian fourth seed Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2 on Saturday at the Washington Classic.

Full story: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/ar ... N4PIWSdpVQ
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Postby Lit » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:02 pm

Reminder: Final match starts in 2 hours. For those in the States, you can watch the game on ESPN 2.

LET'S GO MARCO LET'S GO!
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Postby Lit » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:08 am

He'll get it next time! :D

David Nalbandian of Argentina, ranked 117th, beat eighth-seeded Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, 6-2, 7-6 (4), in the Legg Mason Tennis Classic final.
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Postby Cap » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:35 am

Check out the world rankings.
Back in the top 20 since 2008!!

http://www.atpworldtour.com/Rankings/Singles.aspx
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