Marcos Baghdatis crashed out at the quarter-final stage of the Aegon Open in Nottingham on Thursday after suffering defeat to Pablo Cuevas 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.
Baghdatis failed to reach the last four of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle last week but looked to have put the disappointment behind him by reaching the quarter-finals of the Nottingham tournament.
The 31-year-old won the trophy back in 2014 when he beat Marinko Matosevic in the final to land his first singles trophy since 2010 and was looking sharp in the opening rounds of the 2016 edition.
The Cypriot started the week with wins over Evgeny Donskoy and Sam Querrey respectively to set up the last-eight matchup with Cuevas.
In what was the first meeting between the pair, the Uruguayan looked the most comfortable on court early on. It was not an opening set of immense quality, but more about who made the fewest mistakes, and Cuevas was the one more consistent of the two and eventually took the opening set 6-4, urging Baghdatis to respond.
The Cypriot can often be erratic in his character, sometimes spiraling out of control when the tide turns against him. However, he can also kick into gear when prompted, which was exactly what he did in the second set. With the same score, the Limassol native levelled up the match, demonstrating some fine tennis and taking the match to a deciding set.
The two players matched each other stride for stride in the final set, each keeping their own serve. Baghdatis had a good chance to punish Cuevas at 4-3, but was unable to convert his break point.
A trademark dropshot handed the Cypriot his first match point but Cuevas rescued it. It was the fifth break point that Baghdatis missed in the match and, in the following game, Cuevas had his first of the set, but that too was thwarted.
Baghdatis had won nine of eleven tie-breaks in 2016, and started this one brightly, going up 4-0 in no time at all. Yet it was turned around by the tournament’s second seed to 4-6, giving him two match points. In quite spectacular fashion, the Cypriot saved both but, on Cuevas’ fifth match point, he eventually took his chance with an ace to end the encounter and knock Baghdatis out of the tournament.