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Column: Charismatic Marcos Baghdatis can't seem to stick around U.S. Open

Marcos Baghdatis

Marcos Baghdatis Photo Credit: Getty Images

Marcos Baghdatis has the game to win at the U.S. Open and the personality to star at it. To New York tennis fans’ frustration, he has done little of either.
Seeded 16th after a successful North American hardcourt season, Baghdatis suffered a first-round exit from the Open on Tuesday for the third time. The 25-year-old Cypriot is now 2-7 at Flushing Meadows.
In falling to 32-year-old Arnaud Clement, a tactically superior Frenchman, Baghdatis moved poorly at times during 31⁄2 hours in sweltering Louis Armstrong Stadium, throwing in several foot faults.
“I was really heavy on court,” he said, though he refused to use the heat as an excuse for his 6-3, 2-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 loss. “I wasn’t feeling very fit.”
With 22 aces and 56 winners, Baghdatis flashed some of his redoubtable baseline power. But his sluggish effort contrasted with the positivity projected by Baghdatis’ greatest moment in Queens, one that showcased his talent and charisma.
In 2006, I was among the ticket holders who watched Baghdatis become the retiring Andre Agassi’s final Grand Slam victim, in a palpitating night match at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Dancing dramatically on his non-cramping leg, Baghdatis was still mustering winners when Agassi subdued him well past midnight, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5. The classic match came toward the end of a breakthrough year when Baghdatis was the Australian Open runner-up and a semifinalist at Wimbledon.
Injuries and poor form sent Baghdatis as low as No. 151 thereafter, and he missed the Open in 2008 and ’09. Last year, the Cypriot even lost his clothing sponsor, Adidas, a humbling experience. Now, Baghdatis’ mother sews a patch with an image of the flag of Cyprus onto clothing that he buys from Technifibre himself.
Perhaps his previous humblings on New York courts will fuel a run here next summer. “I don’t know why,” Baghdatis said of his struggles here. “I hope next year I will find a way.”

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