Wimbledon loves Marcos Baghdatis. He charmed Dustin Brown off court 6-4, 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(7) on Day 1 to join us for his second-round match against Argentine Leonardo Mayer.
The anticipation that accompanies some of Wimbledon’s crowd-pleasers brought nervous giggles to the court. These increased when Baggy engaged in a bit of warm-up chatter with the fans after the opening game, which he won on serve.
But there was little joy about the grinding way the Cypriot entertainer went out to Argentine Leonardo Mayer 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. It was a match that never showcased the best of Baghdatis’ talents.
There were occasional glimpses. In the fourth game, a delicately placed drop shot provided him with a break point, a chance he sent long. But an attritional first set played into Mayer’s hands: Baghdatis has been open about his interest in playing exciting, rather than winning, tennis. He’s been restructuring his game in the past year, since he fell outside of the world top 50 in 2013 for the first time in five years. He plays with no coach – to do things his own way – and though his stated ambition is to reach the top 10, it seemed a long way off at the All England Club.
Dumped out of the Australian Open in the first round for the first time this year, Baggy, at 29, is moving into veteran territory. He was forced to retire injured from the Aegon Championships at Queen’s in the second round. However, if he wants inspiration he only has to look at the elongated playing career of Andre Agassi, who won two majors after his 30th birthday, and whose final win was against Baghdatis.
But though he clawed back the second, the semi-finalist in 2006 made little mark on the final two sets. Symptoms of the Queen’s injury could be inferred from the way he struggled to retrieve from the baseline in the third. He had the better of the unforced error count at 16 to Mayer’s 21, but the inspiration – the verve – was lacking.
The most entertaining Baghdatis' shot was when he whipped a forehand from almost behind him, to the horror of Mayer at the net, who saw it too late. These moments were rare, bar one in the first set and a couple late on. Baghdatis' forlorn face to accompany a poor point multiplied – most dramatically on the loss of his serve in the fourth set, a moment that seemed incomprehensible to him.
Outside the world top 150 in February this year, the crowd’s favourite needed a wild card from the All England Club, but he never really got into his stride.
Instead world No.64 Mayer advances into the third round at Wimbledon for the first time where he will face baby-faced assassin Andrey Kuznetsov, who beat No.7 seed David Ferrer.
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