Djokovic drops Baghdatis
Sunday 25 January 2009
By Matthew Trollope
Novak Djokovic has won a highly-entertaining clash against Marcos Baghdatis in the wee hours of Monday morning, beating the Cypriot in four high-quality sets to progress to the quarterfinals of Australian Open 2009.
Before an atmospheric crowd on Rod Laver Arena – featuring animated chanting from each players’ flag-clad supporter groups – the tournament’s third seed battled his unseeded opponent for three hours and 15 minutes before winning 6-1 7-6(1) 6-7(5) 6-2.
The match began at 11.10pm following Jelena Dokic’s epic three-hour win over Alisa Kleybanova, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind, the majority staying on for what promised to be a blockbuster between two of the game’s best shot-makers.
It seemed Djokovic wanted to make up for lost time, moving 4-0 ahead in just 13 minutes. The Serbian’s clean and powerful ball-striking caught the Cypriot off-guard and kept him firmly on the back foot.
Despite Baghdatis getting on the board to be down 1-5, Djokovic promptly served out the set.
The standard of play lifted in the second set as Baghdatis found his range. The two men engaged in several scintillating rallies, rifling the ball low and fast over the net before a winner generally decided the point.
Baghdatis broke early to lead 3-0, before Djokovic hit back in the seventh game to get the set back on serve. He had the chance to break again in the ninth game when up 0-30, but the winners then flew off the Cypriot’s racquet, allowing him to hold. Games then continued on serve.
After such an absorbing set, it seemed a shame the ensuing tiebreak was such a one-sided affair. However, the Serbian proved the more solid and hungry player, winning it seven points to one and taking a two-sets-to-love lead.
The third set went with serve and again had to be decided by a tiebreak. This time, Baghdatis would not crumble.
He punished a couple of poorly-executed drop shots by the Serbian, and went from 0-2 down to 3-2 up. The momentum swing was telling, and the Cypriot would eventually smack a forehand return winner to bring up three set points. Despite botching two, he clinched the set on his third after coming out on top of a gruelling rally.
Djokovic quickly shrugged off the disappointment of the third set, breaking in the opening game of the fourth.
The Serbian was in danger of losing his advantage when serving in the sixth game as Baghdatis went up 15-40, but played clutch tennis to extend his lead to 4-2.
An epic game immediately followed. Baghdatis saved two break points and successfully challenged an out call on the baseline to reach advantage, only for the Serbian to reel off three consecutive points with some brilliant tennis and score his second break of the set.
It proved decisive, and Djokovic went on to close out the match in the next game – just before 2.30am.
Waiting in the quarterfinals is American Andy Roddick, after the No. 7 seed won his fourth-round encounter in straight sets over Spain’s Tommy Robredo.
Baghdatis served 12 aces to Djokovic’s three
The Cypriot recorded just one more winner than Djokovic (37-36)
Djokovic had 49 unforced errors, four less than Baghdatis
The Serbian had 17 break points, compared to just five for Baghdatis