I don't know if there'll ever be a second round match as brilliant or as devastating as the match between Marat Safin and Marcos Baghdatis. Five sets. Impossible to pick a winner, right to the end. An awesome match, between two awesome competitors. A tragic match, because one of them had to lose.
I am very fond of both Marat and Marcos... perhaps a little more partial to Marat, but I didn't want to see Marcos lose either! What a tragedy that they had to face each other in the second round - but what an incredible, incredible match!
It seems amazing to me that two men that are so different physically and emotionally can play such similar tennis. Marat Safin is big, strong, fiery and moody. Marcos Baghdatis is small, quick, happy and smiley. And yet their tennis games are so similar! It was almost painful to watch at time - they both hit so flat that you think every shot is going to hit the net. They hardly ever approached the net - neither is a particularly confident volleyer - but slogged it out from the baseline. Marcos did his best to absorb Marat's sheer power, and Marat did his best to match Marcos's speed. Their games were almost perfectly matched. It was great to watch.
I miss the old Marat - the pre-injury Marat, who was a giant but so fleet around the court, getting down to every ball. We may never get that Marat again - he's said a couple of times it's unlikely he'll be able to play without some pain in his knee - but for the third and fourth sets last night, he was almost there. When Marat is switched on, he is awesome. Federer once said that when Marat is playing well, he can't just beat a player, he can kill them. Well, Marat killed Marcos in those two sets. It's just a shame that he couldn't keep it up in the fifth.
Lots of aspersions have been cast against the fitness of both men - Marcos in particular - but I don't think it's in doubt that they both went the distance physically. Marat lost concentration and hence lost the match. If he had kept his game up, with Baghdatis playing like he did in the fifth, it's difficult to say who would have won! It would have been a marathon - probably something like 27-25 in the fifth! But tennis is not a game of what-ifs, I suppose... and all credit to Marcos. He played beautifully - and oh! how I will be gunning for him against Lleyton Hewitt! Go Marcos!
One thing I did notice is that Marat wanted to smash his racquet several times, but restrained himself... until he finally gave out in the fifth set, and totally destroyed it. I wonder if this is a new mental regime...? Maybe he's sick of being fined, who knows? Maybe he's trying to be more Federesque... though somehow I think that's not the case. Marat likes who he is, and he's happy being a hippo! But my interest was piqued...
Speaking of Federer, he was awesome yesterday against Santoro... and all cred to Santoro for being such a good sport about it! I love watching the master at work... and it seems to me that he, Nadal and Djokovic are having some sort of unspoken competition over who can give up the least games. Federer's winning! Six games in two matches... Djokovic is second with thirteen. And oh, how I am cheering for Roger!
Australian Open Results - Day Four
Roger Federer def. Fabrice Santoro, 6-1 6-2 6-0
Marcos Baghdatis def. Marat Safin, 6-4 6-4 2-6 3-6 6-2
Lleyton Hewitt def. Denis Istomin, 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 5-7 6-1
Novak Djokovic def. Simone Bolelli, 6-1 6-2 6-2
David Nalbandian def. Peter Luczak, 4-6 7-5 6-4 6-1
James Blake def. Michael Russell, 6-3 6-2 6-2
Juan Carlos Ferrero def. Alun Jones, 6-4 6-4 6-2
David Ferrer def. Juan Martin del Potro, 6-4 6-3 ret.
Janko Tipsarevic def. Fernando Verdasco, 7-5 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-3)
Fernando Gonzalez def. Hyung-taik Lee, 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4
Tomas Berdych def. Oscar Hernandez, 6-1 6-2 6-3
Sam Querrey def. Dmitry Tursunov, 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-2
Sebastien Grosjean def. Robin Haase, 4-6 6-4 6-0 6-7 (4-7) 6-4
Vince Spadea def. Denis Gremelmayr, 4-6 6-2 6-3 2-6 9-7
Juan Monaco def. Amer Delic, 6-3 7-6 (8-6) 5-7 6-7 (8-10) 8-6
Marin Cilic def. Jurgen Melzer, 6-4 6-3 6-4
Ana Ivanovic def. Tathiana Garbin, 6-0 6-3
Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Tsvetana Pironkova, 7-6 (7-0) 6-2
Venus Williams def. Camille Pin, 7-5 6-4
Daniela Hantuchova def. Alize Cornet, 6-2 7-5
Anna Chakvetadze def. Alisa Kleybanova, 6-3 6-4
Nadia Petrova def. Anne Kremer, 7-5 7-5
Sania Mirza def. Timea Bacsinszky, 6-1 4-6 7-5
Li Na def. Maria Elena Camerin, 6-4 6-3
Katarina Srebotnik def. Anastasia Rodionova, 6-4 6-1
Maria Kirilenko def. Akiko Morigami, 6-1 6-1
Agnieszka Radwanska def. Pauline Parmentier, 7-5 6-4
Marta Domachowska def. Sofia Arvidsson, 7-5 1-6 6-1
Virginia Ruano Pascual def. Catalina Castano, 6-2 6-4
Ekaterina Makarova def. Yvonne Meusberger, 6-3 6-1
Sabine Lisicki def. Mariya Koryttseva, 6-1 7-5
Caroline Wozniacki def. Alona Bondarenko, 7-6 (7-4) 6-1