Saturday, 24 January 2009
'Midnight' Marcos Baghdatis slams Australian Open draw
Melbourne Park favourite Marcos Baghdatis says it's a "pain in the arse" Australian Open organisers keep making him play midnight matches.
Incredibly, a year after featuring in the infamous dawn showdown with Lleyton Hewitt, Baghdatis was again ordered onto court after 11.30pm for another third-round encounter on Friday.
Baghdatis, the 2006 Open runner-up, lost to Hewitt in an epic five-setter that finished at 4.34 in the morning.
This time, the Cypriot with Australian connections beat American Mardy Fish 6-2 6-4 6-4, but again he was the last player to leave the locker rooms after their match ended at 1.14 in the morning.
And, ironically, the result for Baghdatis was the same as for Hewitt 12 months ago - a daunting fourth-round meeting with Novak Djokovic.
"I can not say it's not a problem," Baghdatis said.
"It's a bit of a pain in the arse for me because the last two years I'm here I'm finishing matches after midnight and after one o'clock, we can say.
"So it's a bit of the pain in the arse, but I have nothing to do about it. It's just the way it is. I've got to accept it and find a way to get through it and that's where the challenge starts."
Baghdatis did not want to make a big deal out of his misfortune, accepting the scheduling is also difficult for Open director Craig Tiley, but said it would be impossible to catch up sleep before taking on reigning champion Djokovic on Sunday.
"I will wake up normal because my eyes will be open at seven or eight o'clock like always with all the adrenaline and all the pressure," he said. "So I don't think I'll get a lot of sleep.
"I'm not complaining or stuff. I'm just saying it's tough for the players. It happens that it's me second time in a row.
"But it doesn't matter, that's the way it is. You have to accept things and find a way to make everything good."
Baghdatis arrived in Melbourne ranked a lowly 97th in the world after injuries limited the one-time No.8 to just 12 tournaments last season.
But he is growing in confidence and doesn't view Djokovic as unbeatable.
"Slowly I'm winning matches, I'm fighting like an animal, working a bit hard and it pays off, so I'm pretty happy about that," Baghdatis said.
"I have nothing to lose now, just go on the court, play my tennis, try to win every point, find a solution and that's what I'm trying to do, so I'm very very happy.
"It's a grand slam. I'm very motivated for a grand slam, especially here in Melbourne.
"I feel like I have a grand slam at home with all the crowd and stuff.
"I set as an objective to pass the first week, so I guess the objective is a bit completed.
"So I'm pretty happy, but it's not finished. I know I'm in the fourth round playing against Djokovic, but I'll try to find a way to push him down and try to find a way to win the match."