By Nemanja Bjedov
Marcos Baghdatis was handed a daunting task yesterday when the draw for Wimbledon was made at the All-England Club.
The Cypriot, who remarkably has not won a singles match since February, will face world number 12 Marin Cilic in the first round on Monday.
Baghdatis, who has suffered eight consecutive first round exits since reaching the quarter-finals in Rotterdam in February, faces a formidable challenge from the big-hitting Croatian giant, who took a set off Andy Murray in the Queen’s Club final last weekend.
“I am going through tough times,” acknowledged Baghdatis last week in ‘s-Hertogenbosch after his latest opening round defeat.
“Confidence-wise, head-wise, everything’s spinning when I am on the court. I am thinking very negatively on the court.
“There are a lot of things I need to work on. In practice I am playing well, but in my head I am feeling the pressure and it makes me get so tight. I do not perform the way I want to,” he concluded.
Cilic leads the overall head-to-head series against the Limassol man 3-1, but they have never met on grass courts. Three of their four meetings were in 2010 and the Croatian came out on top in the second round of the Miami Masters and semi-finals in Munich, while the 28-year-old Cypriot prevailed in the opening round of the Cincinnati Masters.
Last year Cilic beat Baghdatis in the second round of the Toronto Masters.
Should Baghdatis, now ranked 40, overcome Cilic he will then take on the winner of the match between Kenny De Schepper of France and Italian Paolo Lorenzi.
Baghdatis holds a 16-7 career record at Wimbledon with his best showing back in 2006 when he was beaten by Rafa Nadal in the semi-finals.
The following year, he lost to current world number one Novak Djokovic in the last eight.
He was beaten by Djokovic again two years ago in the third round, while also losing to Britain’s Andy Murray at the same stage last year.
By Nemanja Bjedov