By Andreas Vou
Marcos Baghdatis earned a hard-fought victory in the first round of the St. Petersburg Open in Russia on Tuesday, defeating Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis over three sets.
The pair had previously met six times with the Cypriot star coming out on top on four occasions, though there was no shortage of motivation for Baghdatis as Gulbis had won the previous encounter on the grass of Halle in 2013.
Baghdatis took the first set 6-4, displaying far more maturity and level-headedness than in recent matches.
The 30-year-old held his own serve throughout and picked his moment to break the Latvian to sway the set in his favour.
The second set was more complicated. It was Gulbis’ turn to break late on and take the match to a deciding set.
However, Baghdatis did not dwell on being pegged back and started the third set by breaking his opponent’s serve. He added a further break late on to secure a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win.
Baghdatis will now face either fifth seed Tommy Robredo or wildcard Mikhail Youzhny in the next round. Baghdatis is also in the St. Petersburg doubles draw alongside Greek-Australian star Thanasi Kokkinakis. The duo will start their doubles adventure against Ricardas Berankis and Teymuraz Gabashvili.