x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Baghdatis beats pain barrier

Marcos Baghdatis, the Cypriot, overcame stomach cramps to dispatch eighth seed Gilles Simon of France in the first round of the men's Dubai Tennis Championships.

DUBAI // Marcos Baghdatis, the Cypriot, overcame stomach cramps to dispatch eighth seed Gilles Simon of France in the first round of the men's Dubai Tennis Championships at the Aviation Club. Baghdatis, playing in Dubai for the first time since suffering an opening round defeat to Rafael Nadal three years ago, took his chances to defeat the world No 18 Simon 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 in little more than an hour and a half.

But the world No 37, who requested a medical interval midway through the first set, revealed afterwards he has been diagnosed with food poisoning. "I have cramps in the stomach and need to see a doctor. Only then can we see what is going to happen. The only thing I can say is that I fought through. I didn't feel too well and was just concentrating on not throwing up on the court," he said. Both players made solid starts to the first set, but it was unforced errors that gifted the Cypriot the lead. With the duo having exchanged breaks in the 11th and 12th games, a tie-break ensued and Simon, struggling to find form following a lengthy spell on the sidelines, crumbled under the pressure.

"He gave me the tiebreak basically," said Baghdatis. "He made unforced errors, so I took them. I was just trying to stay in the match and that's what I did. Now, I'll have a day off and see how my stomach goes because, yes I beat Gilles, but if I'm not fit I can lose to anybody." In the second set, Baghdatis raced to a 3-0 lead, but his opponent showed belief to fight back to level the scores. However, once more the Frenchman fluffed his lines and was broken in the 10th game.

"Marcos is playing good, but I don't think he was playing better than me," said Simon, 25. "In the last game, I just made four mistakes and that's because I need to play more matches." gmeenaghan@thenational.ae