With top seed Robyn Soderling’s withdrawal from the semifinals due to an elbow problem, Marcos Baghdatis was gifted a berth in the finals at the Stockholm Open. The Cypriot now ranked 66th took full advantage of Soderling’s generosity in holding off Belgian Olivier Rochus 6-1, 7-5 to carry his first ATP title since Zagreb in 2007.
Since reaching the Australian Open final in 2006, Baghdatis’career has hit multiple bumps. The Cypriot’s ranking plummeted to 151 in July of this year after reaching a high of 8 in 2006. Of late, Baghdatis has been dabbling on the challenger circuit where he’s won a couple of tourneys. Currently 87th in the world, Rochus has also been longing for a title, his last was in 2006. Regardless of the adversary, for the Belgian, this was going to be a formidable task after a three set semifinal zapped a great deal of his energy.
After each player successfully held in his opening game, Rochus troubled Baghdatis by taking him to four deuces. But, with an ace and a forehand up the line winner, Marcos stayed on serve at 2-1. Perhaps a little fatigued, at 40-15, Rochus committed two double faults for deuce. Now with a forehand winner, Baghdatis had his initial break point. However, with a decent serve, Rochus got an error in reply for deuce. Ultimately, with two backhand errors from Olivier, Marcos secured the break on his third try. After easily consolidating, with a backhand down the line winner, Baghdatis had another break chance. Later on, Baghdatis capitalized stretching his lead to 5-1. With a solid service game, Baghdatis put the set to rest.
Baghdatis continued to ride the wave in the second set. The Cypriot forced Rochus into errors to break right off the bat. Still, a tenacious Rochus was able to get the better of Baghdatis in the long rallies and leveled the set at 1 all. By readily holding serve, Rochus had his first lead in the set at 2-1. Afterwards, Olivier coerced Marcos into three consecutive mistakes to earn triple break point. But, unlike his vertically challenged opponent, Baghdatis aced his way out of trouble. Yet, with Marcos serving at 2-3, with a few aggressive returns, Olivier pressed some backhand errors for break point. When Baghdatis’ attempt at a forehand dropshot failed, Rochus took a 4-2 lead. The next game though because of some mistimed backhands, Rochus was unable to consolidate. The turning point in the set came with Rochus serving at 5 all and 40-0. Baghdatis crushed a backhand down the line return winner on a second serve, got lucky on net court forehand and pressured Rochus into a forehand error for deuce. Subsequently, after Rochus fired a backhand down the line, Marcos blasted a forehand up the line for a winner and break point. As Rochus’ forehand sailed long, Baghdatis went ahead 6-5. Serving for the match, Baghdatis had a backhand kiss the line to arrive at double championship point. Marcos then served an ace to bed the tournament.