By Andreas Vou
MARCOS Baghdatis suffered defeat in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships against Stan Wawrinka on Saturday in straight sets (6-4, 7-6).
The Cypriot star was featuring in an ATP World Tour final for the second successive year after a superb week which saw him defeat the likes of Roberto Bautista Agut and Feliciano López en route to the showdown.
Last year in Atlanta, Baghdatis found it mightily difficult against John Isner and swept aside without much of a sniff. This time around, Baghdatis gave a far better account of himself and pushed the world no. 4 mightily close in both sets but the astute Wawrinka was simply too clinical at the vital moments of the match.
In what was the seventh meeting between the two, which had all resulted in victories for Wawrinka, Baghdatis matched his opponent stride for stride in the first set, right until the very last when carelessness cost him dearly.
Serving to stay in the set, Baghdatis made two consecutive double faults to hand Wawrinka three set points. Despite bringing the set to deuce, and then saving a fourth set point, another double fault would eventually see the first set go the way of the Swiss.
The second set started positively for the Cypriot, with a fine cross-court shot which even brought a round of applause from his opponent.
Baghdatis’ best chance of turning the match back in his favour up until that point came midway through the second set when he raced to a 30-0 lead during Wawrinka’s set. But it was only a matter of moments before the talented Swiss took control and reversed proceedings.
With the pair inseparable, an enthralling tie break ensued. Either side of Wawrinka spurring his first championship point at 7-6, Baghdatis missed two chances of his own to level the match.
The Limassol-native then let a further two chances go begging at 9-8 and 10-9. Not before missing another point to win the title, Wawrinka eventually put an end to an exhausting, topsy-turvy and thrilling final by making it 15-13 to claim the trophy.
Despite the defeat, Baghdatis can be thoroughly pleased with his efforts and is now guaranteed a place in the Top 40 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time in almost three years as a result of his impressive run in Dubai.