It was an intense weekend for former World No. 8 Marcos Baghdatis. After losing his semi-final contest with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the If Stockholm Open on Saturday afternoon, the 27 year old received a phone call, while he was still in the locker room, to say that his wife, WTA player Karolina Sprem, was about to give birth to the couple’s first child.
Happily, a baby girl, Zahara Baghdatis was delivered by caesarean section shortly after at 3:30pm, weighing 2,960 grams (6.5lbs) and measuring 55 centimetres (21.7in) in length.
"As I got to the lockers I picked up my phone to call Karolina, as she was going in the morning for a check up at the doctor," explained Baghdatis. "The phone was ringing and it was her sister. She told me, 'You are going to be a father today.' I was a little confused as Karolina wasn’t due to go in until Thursday, but she told me, 'She is in now.' So I told her I will arrange my tickets to get to Croatia.
"[Then] as I was walking up the stairs to say goodbye to the tournament staff and leave, I got a call and Karolina’s sister told me, 'You are a father.'"
Baghdatis was forced to wait to meet baby Zahara. Having rushed to catch a flight from Stockholm airport on the Saturday night, he missed the connecting flight in Munich and had to spend the night in Germany before resuming his journey to Zagreb on the Sunday morning. "The worst was when my in-laws picked me up at the airport," recalled Baghdatis. "It was so funny as I was sweating so much from excitement, anxiety and all these emotions."
Remembering the first time he saw his wife and baby, Baghdatis said, "I saw Karolina first and gave her a big hug. All the emotions were going through my body all the time, all the adrenalin. Everything is good, 'Zahy' is slowly getting into a routine and Karolina is doing very well.
"Karolina chose her name," continued the Cypriot. "She liked it very much. The name is derived from the Greek word ‘zahari’, meaning ‘sugar’. I liked it too, and we even have a nickname for her, ‘Zahy’. Everybody says she look like me."
Baghdatis and Sprem wed on 14th of July in Trakoscan, Croatia, with Baghdatis having proposed just over a year earlier in Nice, France.
Talking to WTATennis.com, Sprem said, "I met Marcos in Sydney at the start of 2010. It's funny, because when I knew him before we weren't really friends on the tour, only saying ‘hi’ or something whenever we'd see each other. But somehow, everything started in Sydney.
"The wedding took place over many days with lunches, dinners and parties, and it was close to my hometown, about 40 minutes away. Parts of the wedding were at the castle, then the church, then next to the lake. At the beginning it wasn't really planned like that, but that's how it ended up and it was beautiful. We had about 100 people there, just from our family and all of our closest friends."
"Honestly, this is the best year of my life," said Baghdatis. "Having these two special people in my life, I truly feel like I am a lucky guy. That’s all I can say!"
After seeing the doctor on Tuesday, Baghdatis received the all clear on the small tear in his left groin that had caused him to retire in the match with Tsonga. He will resume training by Friday and play his final tournament of the season at next week’s BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.