By Andreas Vou
Marcos Baghdatis ran world no.10 Rafael Nadal mightily close at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany on Thursday afternoon but eventually lost out on a quarter-final place 7-6, 6-7, 6-2.
The two had not met since 2011 in Madrid, where Nadal took the match relatively comfortably in two sets, but this encounter would prove nowhere near as simple.
Baghdatis matched Nadal in the early exchanges of the first set, before breaking the Mallorcan’s serve to take a 2-4 lead. However, Nadal rallied back and took a 5-4 advantage just minutes after saving a few break points to prevent going 2-5 down. Nadal would eventually go on to take the set via a tie break (7-5) after just over an hour of play.
The second set was just as enduring. Just as Nadal thought he had the match in his hands after breaking Baghdatis’ set to make it 3-2, the Limassol native immediately broke back. And though Nadal nullified two set points late in the set, two more would come for Baghdatis in another tie break, and this time he made no mistake to bring the match level.
For all of the world no.63’s efforts however, Nadal’s quality shone through as he took the final set 6-2 to bring an end to an enthralling two-hour and 42-minute encounter.
The Cypriot and the Spaniard have now met on nine occasions and Nadal’s latest victory makes it 8-1 in his favour.