had a great article
yesterday on Marcos:
Marcos Baghdatis set to reclaim mantle of cult hero
Margiue McDonald From: The Australian
January 02, 2010
THE designer stubble is there, so is the infectious smile, and the tricks with a tennis ball. Yep, Marcos Baghdatis is back.
Marcos Baghdatis played an exhibition match with Daniela Hantuchova
It may be four years since the young man from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus took everyone on a merry dance right to the Australian Open final. He may have been savaged there by Roger Federer, but his cult hero status is still intact.
And it seems so is his game after a rocky 2008 season riddled with injuries that restricted him to just 12 tournaments. Last year provided much happier times for Baghdatis.
He won three events on the ITF circuit (in France, Tashkent and Canada) and then finished off the year with a win at the ATP's Stockholm tournament. That pushed him back inside the top 50 once and boosted his confidence no end.
"I wasn't playing very good after I left last year's Australian Open, but I picked things up at the end of the year winning a few Challengers and a Grand Prix," Baghdatis said.
"It was like two months ago so it's tough to keep the momentum with holidays and not practising physically a lot.
"But I feel quite fit, I'm playing good tennis and I'm confident, so I think everything will be fine. I feel great here and I'm happy coming back."
It was not all bad last year. After losing in the first round in Brisbane to Finland's Jarkko Nieminen, Baghdatis made the fourth round in Melbourne, losing to 2008 Australian Open's defending champion Novak Djokovic.
He never intended to live off his 2006 exploits but everyone still remembers. At a late-afternoon practise session at the Queensland Tennis Centre, he signed giant tennis balls, autograph books and baseball caps before posing for photos with fans, who recognised him and stopped to watch.
He didn't disappoint, head-butting tennis balls, catching them on the fly on his shoe before kicking them soccer ball-like into the backcourt covers. He even showed a new trick of retrieving a ball from the court surface. He squeezes down hard with his foot on one side before releasing the pressure so the ball pops up so he can catch it on his racquet.
Baghdatis also knows his legion of Greek and Cypriot fans will not be far away.
"I'm pretty sure they will be there."
While definitely one of the characters of the men's tour, Baghdatis teamed up with one of the stalwarts of the women's in Daniela Hantuchova yesterday to play a charity doubles match with Australians Casey Dellacqua, Scott Draper and rising Queensland academy stars, Ashleigh Barty and Travis Boon.
The money raised went to the Kim Walters foundation for research into breast and ovarian cancer. The former wife of Brisbane NRL star Kevin Walters died of breast cancer at the age of 30.
It is hard to believe the svelte Hantuchova is about to embark on her 12th year on the WTA tour at the age of 26. She is ranked No 24 and for the past six years has not been outside the top 30. But she has set a goal for 2010 to get back inside the top 10, where she finished in 2007.
Helping her in that quest is former Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt coach, Darren Cahill. And it's not just her serve and return, renowned Cahill traits, she has been concentrating on.
"I've been working on everything with him. He's been fantastic and what a privilege to be able to work with him on the court," Hantuchova said yesterday.
"I can't say enough how thankful I am for that opportunity. There's so many things he can add to my game and his experiences are just fantastic. I'm really enjoying every day practising with him."
As fourth seed, Hantuchova fell in the first round in Brisbane last year, the second round in Sydney and the third in Melbourne.
"We'll see what happens this year," she said. "My preparation's been great. I've worked really hard and I'm injury free. I'm a completely different player. I really know what I want to do on the court and I'm really going for it."