Re: Articles, News ...
This is the translation I've made of an article concerning Marcos, published in French Tennis Magazine, February 2007.The Star of the Academy
Written by Guy Barbier, in Tennis Magazine, February 2007.
Today, like every Wednesday during that winter training period, it's a day off for Marcos Baghdatis. Cut from the outside in what he calls his "2nd family", the Mouratoglou Academy, in the Yvelines, to prepare for next season, the Cypriot, revelation of last year, knows no lazy day. The day's begun with a good deed which he enjoyed a lot: hit the ball for a few minutes with the prodigy child of the Academy, Jan Silva. The young American, aged 4 ½, that Marcos and his coach Guillaume Peyre had "discovered" last March at Indian Wells, and who's now living at Mouratoglou's. "He's really stunning", he says, "that's funny!! The racket's bigger than him, and all he does with it is trully unbelievable for his age." And there's also been that lunch with the Ambassador of Cyprus in France, Minas Hadjimichael, come to visit the newly elected "Man of the Year in Cyprus". And finally, in the afternoon, a physical training awaits him, a bonus of last minute in his programm, which says a lot about his ambitions at the beginning of 2007.
No celebrations for the end of the year in Cyprus, then, a family sacrifice that Marcos imposed himself, thanks to his experience of 2006.
"Before last Australian Open," he points out, "I had already spent December training. "Nonetheless", he adds, "I've noticed that after my good performances last year, I've gone through low periods, because I had more or less lost grip. I've made mistakes. Like going on holidays for 3 weeks after Wimbledon. I've flown to Cyprus. I've given a lot to the others....At the end of the day, I've completely messed up the US tourneys this summer. Now, all's clear in my mind: I wanna live everything 100% , devote all my time and energy to tennis, for the upcoming 3 years. All the rest, I just skip: family, friends, private life. And we'll see."
This hunger for absolute is for Baghdatis the natural continuation of a 2006 season which brought him, in his 21st year, multiple satisfactions. Of course, he'll keep in mind his 1st Grand Slam final, at the AO, his semi-final at Wimbledon, his breaking through the Top 10 (n°8 in August, 12 at the end of the year), and also his 1st ATP title (in Beijing in September). But his most precious memory remains a very accurate moment at the AO.
"This is the match point against Nalbandian, in the semi. Not an extraordinary point, as it was an ace. But it was allowing me to qualify for the final. In front of all my friends, my cousins, in front of the whole world, thanks to the media. After that point, I've lived the most beautiful 2 minutes of my player's life".
Compared to these astounding emotions of his 1st big final, as n°52 seeded, against Roger Federer from whom he was gonna take a set, the joy of his semi-final in Wimbledon has been experienced on the "soft mode" ("only fun when next to Autralia!!"). In the likeness of the usual British selfishness as opposed to the warm Greek tunes under the Austral summer sun compared with the softness of the ball bouncing on the grass, a surface on which Marcos considers himself "the very first surprised to be able to play as good", to the point of having defeated, successively, players like Sébastien Grosjean, Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt!
Another sober joy for a moment so particular, the one of the 1st ATP title, won mid-September in Beijing against Mario Ancic in the final.
"You know", tells Marcos,"when you've just played Agassi in front of 23000 people in Flushing Meadow, finding yourself in China......"
It's true. How could Baghdatis have chased from his mind the images of that crazy match that just opposed him, 2 weeks before, to Andre Agassi on the Arthur Ashe Stadium for the 2nd round of the US Open? An epic battle, won 7-5 in the 5th set by the one all America was celebrating for his farewell tennis event, Baghdatis being knocked down by cramps after having come back from 2 sets to love.
"For those 2 first sets (lost 6-4 6-4)", tells Marcos,"I was feeling like nuts! The whole crowd was treating me like a shabby guy. But I've fought like crazy, even when I was down 0-4 in the 4th set. Too sad, those cramps at the end......I've lost but I've gone out of the court with my head up high, after an extraordinary match. It was such an emotion. Agassi's always been, together with Rafter, my fave player. I wasn't happy I had lost, but I was happy it's him who defeated me. When we shook hands, Agassi saw I was moved. He told me " but what's the matter with you now?" Me, I was feeling like kissing him, kiss him on his bald head..."
After an end of the season, experienced like a big dropping of the tension because of a twisted shoulder due to a plungeon a bit too risky when he was training in Bangkok, an accident which forced him to not take part to the Masters Cup, Baghdatis thus chose to go back to his French bases to prepare the 2007 season.
When this guy, born in Limassol, Cyprus, talks about the Mouratoglou Academy, that he became member of, aged 13, when the Academy was still based in Montreuil, Seine Saint Denis, he speaks of France like his "adoption country", and of the tennis camp like "his 2nd family". And he had really one, the one of Laurent and Nathalie Benaim in Courbevoie, this family he stayed with during numerous years, like he told us about in Tennis Magazine, in a previous edition (see: his extraordinary story, Tennis Magazine n°346, Jan 2005).
Today, become famous and millionaire, Marcos Baghdatis remains that child of the Academy, where he's grown up and still trains with one of the coaches who saw him arrive, Guillaume Peyre. As a matter of fact, he's become the king of the village made of those chalets where the boarded students of the Academy live. Marcos lives, during his stays at the Academy, in a chalet situated at the end of this weird main street. From there, he can enjoy the view over the tennis courts as well as the Club House of the Liberty Club. The emotion's still there. Especially when he goes back among all those youngsters who reflect him strongly back the image of the guy he still was, not so long ago. Kids for whom he still is "Marcos" and for whom he knows how to be the example. " If I can help them, inspire them, then that's fine. But most of all, I'm their friend. I know where I come from. I've gone through all this, like them. And I think I show them that we're not there to give matches. That even if you're not 100%, you have to do everything to keep on fighting, to try to get away with it."
The eye he lays on the structure that turned him into a professional tennis player is first and foremost the one of gratefulness.
"One can say, undoubtedly, that today I'm important for the Academy. But I also know to what extent the Academy was, and still is, important for me. Patrick (Mouratoglou) has done so much for me. And still does."
It's there, on the countryside of the Yvelines, between Plaisir and Thiverval-Grignon, that Baghdatis has started to "swallow" the features of his new life of young champion, of his repute, his new world.
"In 2006, it's been very tough to get used to", he admits. " I had to do all at the same time: play, face and cope with business, solicitations in Cyprus and elsewhere. I've had to surround myself with competent and trustworthy people. Today, that's done, I've got a team around me, I feel stronger. In 2007, I should feel better in my mind."
Marcos Baghdatis was saying he was eager to be there, at the beginning of this new season he was planning to start in Doha before heading Sydney and Melbourne.
Ah...Autralia, the Rod Laver Arena...." I'm looking forward to going back there", he says, only precising that the holidays that he took at the end of last season already brought him to Sydney, where he could meet "family, cousins, grandmother...", where he "went a lot to discos", where he "slept a lot", "did some karting". And where he came closer to his dream of going back to Melbourne.
"I so much feel like going back there. For the moment, with more will than stress, but I know that stress's gonna come." Unexpected finalist last year against Roger Federer against whom "everyone tries to give one's best but who's an exceptional player, one of the greatest in tennis history, who does whatever he wants with the ball", Marcos won't go back and expose himself to the enthusiasm of his fans from the outstanding Greek community of Melbourne as well as to his numerous relatives who live there, just to do as well as last year, but better!
"What matters, that's when you lift up the Trophy. I'm not playing to become n°2 or even n°1 in the world. I play to live moments such as those I've lived in Australia last year. To win big titles, and most of all, my 2 favourite ones, the Australian Open and Roland Garros. That's what I have on my mind every morning, especially when it's hard to go training. I have faith in that and I've already proven, I think, that I was a player built for the big events. I think it's gonna be that way, all the time".
Best of LUCK to ALL my Faves in 2015