Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis stunned World No. 1 Roger Federer in a Tuesday night classic at the BNP Paribas Open, fighting off three match points to oust the three-time champion 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(4) at the year’s first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournament.
“Best win of my career,” said the 24-year-old Baghdatis. “I think that says everything. I cannot say I’m not happy. I’m very happy. A lot of emotions are going through right now. It’s the best win of my career. I lost a lot of matches against those top guys, and it’s a relief to win a match like that after being out for two years, having some tough moments. It’s a great moment for me. I’ll try to enjoy it.”
Federer closed the opening set with a break, and looked poised to clinch the victory in similar fashion as he held two match points on the Cypriot’s serve at 5-4. But instead of an early night for the Swiss, Baghdatis pushed back – winning the next four points, breaking Federer in the ensuing game and then serving out the set.
Although the World No. 1 built up a 4-1 lead in the third set, he failed to maintain the advantage as Baghdatis broke back in the seventh game. Federer put himself in position close the match at 6-5 as he put away a forehand volley at the net to earn a third match point, but placed a backhand into the net.
Federer said: “It was a decent match, but maybe wrong choices at the wrong time for me. Maybe going for too much, maybe playing too passively. That’s not something you can really work on. That comes through playing matches, and that’s what I need. I hope to get more of it in Miami, but I will definitely play a lot of practice sets, that’s for sure, until then.”
After the match, Baghdatis got on his knees and kissed the court at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The Greek from Cyprus, who had lost to Federer in their first six encounters including the 2006 Australian Open final, told the crowd, “Seven is my lucky number.”