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Old 08-28-2007, 09:02 AM   #5
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Fall Again Comes Early for Marcos Baghdatis
By Erin Bruehl
Monday, August 27, 2007


Crowd favorite Marcos Baghdatis, the No. 18 seed and ranked player in the world from Cyprus, had another short stay at the US Open.

Last year he fell in the second round to Andre Agassi in Flushing Meadows in a classic five-set match that turned out to be Agassi's final career win. At the 2007 US Open, it was the unseeded Max Mirnyi of Belarus, currently ranked 106th in the world, who upset Baghdatis in a match lasting over three hours, winning 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (6) in the first round at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Baghdatis struggling with his serve all afternoon and especially in the opening set, had little answer for Mirnyi’s serves that were regularly hitting the mid-130s in velocity. Mirnyi scored the first and only break of the first set in the sixth game when Baghdatis hit a backhand into the net for a 4-2 lead. It would be all Mirnyi would need to easily take the opening set in 36 minutes.

The Cypriot came out firing to start the second set but still struggled with his first serves and had a triple break point opportunity in the second game at 0-40 and was not able to convert. He did manage to score his first break in the fourth game on a crosscourt winner to take a 3-1 lead and held his own serve to go up 4-1.

But he let Mirnyi back into it as he allowed himself to be broken in both the seventh and eleventh games and Mirnyi then held serve in the 12th game to take a two sets to love lead. For the second set, Baghdatis converted just 37 percent of his first serves to 65 percent for Mirnyi.

The crowd in Louis Armstrong was largely pro-Baghdatis and tried to urge on the Cypriot star. In the third set, he started to hit shots more characteristic of the No. 18 player in the world, saving a break point in the first game and earned his first break of the set with a great passing shot in the fourth game to go up 3-1.

Mirnyi did his best to take advantage of Baghdatis’ slow second serves and effectively used a serve and volley technique throughout the match to drop shots over the net and catch the Cypriot in a corner of the court.

Baghdatis did outnumber Mirnyi with winners 62 to 57 for the match and had much fewer unforced errors, just 27 to 48 for Mirnyi.

Baghdatis closed out the third set when Mirnyi hit a serve return into the net.

The fourth set became an 80-minute battle as Baghdatis hit many impressive winners down each side of the court and it stayed on serve through the sixth game that ended with a tie at 3-3.

In the seventh game on Mirnyi’s serve, Baghdatis held a double break point at 15-40 on a winner down the right line but hit two shots long of the baseline to bring the game to deuce. It was the first of nine deuces in the game as the pair traded winners and shots wide and into the net. Mirnyi was eventually victorious to hold his own serve when a Baghdatis shot sailed long.

The set stayed on serve and went to a tiebreak where Baghdatis took a 5-1 lead but Mirnyi then scored four straight points on three Baghdatis shots that landed out or into the net and a smash winner to tie at 5-5.

Mirnyi hit a winner down the right line to go up 7-6 and then closed out the match when Baghdatis hit a ball into the net.

Mirnyi will next face either Paul Goldstein of the U.S. or Sebastien Grosjean of France in the second round.


Match facts:
- Baghdatis has never advanced past the second round at the US Open in four appearances.
- Baghdatis converted only two of 10 break point chances against Mirnyi.
- Mirnyi had 16 aces in the match.
- In the 2002 US Open, Mirnyi advanced to the quarterfinals.
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