05 Jul An exception: A tribute to Marcos Baghdatis, Cyprus No 1 Tennis player
Cypriot professional tennis player, Marcos Baghdatis, one of the most energetic players in the world and Cyprus No. 1 tennis player, has retired from his tennis career, following his last match against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, on Thursday, 4th July 2019, at Wimbledon.
He wore his heart on his sleeve, as he patted his chest with both hands, knelt on the grass before kissing it, one last time on the No. 2 Court. With a tearful goodbye to all fans, he received a deserving lengthy ovation from spectators.
Baghdatis’ first memory of watching tennis, was Andre Agassi’s first and only trophy, at the 1992 Wimbledon final. Thirteen years later, at the 2005 US Open, Baghdatis, then just No. 73 in the ATP Rankings, asked Agassi to play a set with him.
The spotlight was on him the following year, at the 2006 Australian Open, where he defeated three consecutive Top 10 opponents, and took the first set against Roger Federer, before succumbing. In the same year, he reached the Wimbledon semi-finals, and became the first ever Cypriot to be in the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings.
His achievement is an inspiration not only to fans within the tennis world, but to children and young people, reminding us that with hard work, perseverance and spirit, anything is possible.
Roger Federer, gave tribute to Baghdatis, saying “He had a winner mentality”, “Off the court, he was always a lovely guy, always very funny, easygoing, good to be around with”, and “he did so much coming from such a small country and becoming, you know, a sporting superstar”.
Marcos Baghdatis’ ball striking ability is irrefutable, but what endeared him to fans, was who he was as a person. His ability to seize and embrace the moment, to rise to every occasion with an infectious smile, and not taking anything for granted, are the true reasons fans increasingly cheered for him.
In his autobiography, “Open”, Agassi wrote “Typically I don’t play practice sets with other players during a Grand Slam, but Baghdatis asked with disarming grace. I won the practice set, 6-2, and afterward he was all smiles. I saw that he’s the type who smiles when he’s happy or nervous, and you can’t tell which”.
After Baghdatis’ last match on Thursday, where he performed his ritual, one last time, by throwing everything he had into the crowd, he said, “I didn’t want to leave the court. It was a nice farewell. It felt amazing. Again, I want to thank everybody for staying and giving me that last emotion”.
He also added, emotionally, “I’m crying, but I’m happy. It’s a happy moment for everybody, because I’m really excited for the future and the only thing I’m sad leaving behind is the last part: the fans and the emotions that they always gave me.”
He and his wife, former player Karolina Sprem, are expecting their third child, in November.
Although Baghdatis’ professional tennis career has come to an end, he will continue the sport, by coaching children and young people, in Cyprus and Greece, inspiring them to follow in his steps.