Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hail the Clown Prince!

All of us tennis fans who're used to periodically bemoaning the lack of characters in the game, well, we can breathe easy now. I know John McEnroe is coming back for a bit of doubles, but that's not what I have in mind. I'm talking about Marcos Baghdatis. Funky hair, funky clothes, sense of humour, sense of theatre - well, the guy has a bit of all that. Oh, by the way, he can play tennis too - darn well. When he played Roger Federer in the third round last year, you could see the kid had talent. Plus he had the nerve not to be overwhelmed by the occasion or his opponent. Even given all that, what Baghdatis has achieved in this Australian Open is simply incredible. And he's done all that with style. He and his band of Greek-Cypriot-Lebanese entourage (although not quite his own) have infused life into on otherwise lacklustre men's draw ravaged by injuries and upsets (one of which Baghdatis was admittedly responsible for). There was a period in last night's match against Ljubicic where Baghdatis suddenly seemed to sense the enormity of the occasion and errors began creeping into his game. Now, there's no escaping for him - he knows he's playing the biggest game of his life on Australia Day, with the world in attendance. Can he perform? - NK

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