2011 ABN AMRO World Tennis: Marcos Baghdatis vs. Ivan Ljubicic – Preview
Top ranked Cypriot, Marcos Baghdatis makes it into his first quarter-final at Rotterdam on Thursday as he gets ready to play the seventh seeded Croat Ivan Ljubicic. The pair is playing at the 2011 ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament this week.
Ranked 20th in the world, Baghdatis is unseeded in the event. However, playing his opening clash against the second seeded Andy Murray this week; Baghdatis proved that a seed matters not in the event. Losing only five games, Baghdatis coupled
a 6-4 win in the opener with a fry in the second to oust the Brit. The Cypriot moved on in the event to play Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. Maintaining his no set loss record, Baghdatis dismissed Lopez with a 7-6(3), 6-3 win.
A novice at the Rotterdam event, Baghdatis is only playing in his third year here. In his debut here in 2008, Baghdatis failed to move past the first round falling to Robin Soderling. His 2010 run here took him only one step further. Although he advanced
to the second round after defeating James Blake, he fell in the next round to Russian Nikolay Davydenko.
This time around, Baghdatis has managed to go another step further. However, the Cypriot wishes his form would take him all the way to the final rather than just a quarter-final run here. It would seem that the Fates are keeping in mind what Baghdatis wants.
Pitted against Ljubicic in the quarter-final, Baghdatis could not have asked for better odds. Although he is ranked five places below the Croat, Baghdatis enjoys an enormous 4-1 lead in the career head-to-head. Baghdatis had last defeated Ljubicic in their
first round match at the 2007 Paris Masters and that too in straight sets.
Playing Ljubicic for the sixth time, Baghdatis says, “Ivan is a great player. He’s playing great tennis. He serves well. I’ll try to continue the way I’m playing, stay concentrated, be aggressive at the important points and I think I have the weapons to
Baghdatis seems pretty confident and his recent form does much to reaffirm that confidence. However, Ljubicic is not one to go away without a fight.
A veteran here, Ljubicic is putting in his ninth year with five quarter-final or better runs. Debuting here in 2001, Ljubicic made it all the way to the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion, Nicolas Estude. The next year, Ljubicic went one step
further as he secured a berth in the final four, though he failed to move on, falling to Tim Henman. His best was yet to come though. In 2005, in-form Ljubicic made it all the way to the final, though he lost to Roger Federer. The Croat made another attempt
at the title in 2007 and became a two time finalist here. However, the title eluded him the second time when he lost to Mikhail Youzhny.
Standing at a career win loss of 14-8 here, Ljubicic only looks to improve on his score this week. Playing his opening clash against Sergiy Stakhovsky, the Croat prevailed 7-6(3), 6-3. His next win against French qualifier, Benoit Paire improved his score
to an impressive 16-8 here. However, the Croat has no intentions of stopping.
Though he might lag the head-to-head score, Ljubicic might be ‘third time lucky’ and he will give it his all to finally win a title here.
Prediction: Though the statistics mark Baghdatis as the clear favourite, recent form of both players suggest that the two are evenly matched. Although the match is in no way going to be over in straight sets, Baghdatis’
recent fitness regime suggests he might outlast the Croat in straight sets.