Marcos Baghdatis got his Australian Open campaign off to a spectacular commencement. At the Medibank International Sydney, the 2006 Australian Open finalist prevailed over Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6.
Gasquet had a jittery opening service game. After a backhand down the line error wiped out game point, Gasquet flubbed an overhead and sent another backhand long handing Baghdatis the early break. Marcos had no difficulty consolidating for a 2-0 lead. On many occasions, Gasquet pushed Baghdatis to deuce after the latter had game point. However, with errant strokes, Gasquet did not get far. The tides shifted in the sixth game when serving at 3-2 and deuce, Baghdatis botched an easy forehand after a well placed wide serve to allow Gasquet his first break point opportunity of the match. Still, Gasquet failed to take advantage, dumping a forehand into the net. Ultimately, Baghdatis held on for a 4-2 lead and closed out the set with an exemplary game.
With Gasquet at 30-0, the initial game of the second set was interrupted by rain. When the Frenchman returned, he stumbled but still maintained serve. Perhaps, calmer after the interlude, Gasquet was now tracking down dropshots that Baghdatis had poured on for winners in the first set. As Baghdatis served at 1-2, he misconnected on a forehand up the line giving Gasquet break point. Although Marcos forced Richard into a backhand error erasing that break point. Unable to stick enough first serves, Baghdatis eventually double faulted donating to Gasquet the break. But, a 5-2 lead was not sufficient for Gasquet to wrap up the set. After Baghdatis held easily at 3-5, with an excellent crosscourt pass, an unsuccessful tweener by Gasquet on a superb lob and another misfired backhand by his rival, Baghdatis had triple break point. Baghdatis was back in the set after Gasquet netted a forehand. Subsequently, with each player holding serve, the set went to a tiebreaker. With a beautifully angled backhand crosscourt winner, Gasquet had a minibreak at 2-0. Yet, with two successive double faults, Gasquet’s edge evaporated. Thereafter, Richard folded. Gasquet did not win a single point, permitting Baghdatis to run away with the tiebreaker and the championship.
Despite the lost, Gasquet’s game is on the right path in light of the cocaine scandal which curtailed his 2009 season. Last week, Gasquet was a quarterfinalist in Brisbane. Armed with a new coach, Baghdatis has been revitalized. For the Cypriot, this is his second title in three months after a previous drought of two years. Now, Baghdatis is hoping that he will carry this momentum to Melbourne. After an unforgettable tussle into the wee hours in 2008, Baghdatis appears once again on a third round collision course with Lleyton Hewitt. If his Sydney victory is any indication, Marcos appears fit for another rumble.