Marcos Baghdatis played well at 'key moments' to win his ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships opener
Cypriot beats Victor Troicki, ranked 46 places higher than world No 112, in straight sets
Marcos Baghdatis attributed his first-round victory at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships to playing well in the “key moments” after defeating Viktor Troicki 7-5, 6-2 on Monday evening.
World No 112 Baghdatis, who reached the Dubai final in 2016, was handed a tough task for his first-round match. In Troicki, he was taking on a player ranked 46 places higher and who had won their past two encounters.
On paper, this looked an evenly-matched contest, and so it proved throughout an opening set that lasted one hour and 11 minutes. Breaks were exchanged when Troicki levelled at 3-3 having handed the advantage to Baghdatis three games earlier. From there, the set went with serve as both players fended off break points until Baghdatis claimed the all-important break to lead 6-5 before serving out the set.
Based on the evidence from the first set, it looked as though the spectators inside the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, most of whom were cheering for Baghdatis, would be bedded in for the long haul.
However, after falling behind, Troicki’s resistance evaporated and Baghdatis quickly raced into an unassailable 4-0 lead in the second set.
The ease with which the Cypriot held serve in the second set was in stark contrast to the first where three of his six service games went to deuce. In the second set, he did not face deuce once.
“It was a great battle in the first set,” Baghdatis, 32, said. “First match of the tournament, it's always hard, especially when you play a player like Viktor that knows you so well.
“I played pretty well in important points, key moments of the match. I came strong in the first game of the second set to make some great returns and break him there. I think then it went like a routine. I started playing better and better, more confident."
Dubai holds some good memories for Baghdatis who two years ago came within one win of clinching the title. On that occasion, Stan Wawrinka, the three-time grand slam winner from Switzerland, proved a challenge too far for the former Australian Open champion.
"It's an amazing place to be," Baghdatis said. "Best place to be at this time of the year. I'm having fun whenever I come here. I love the conditions. I love the club here. The crowd comes out here and shows you so much energy, gives you so much energy. It's always a pleasure being back."
Baghdatis will next face either Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano or Troicki’s fellow Serbian Filip Krajinovic in the second round.
Order of play for Day 2 of Dubai event: Dimitrov, Pouille and Gasquet in action
ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships: Everything you need to know
On Tuesday, top seed Grigor Dimitrov begins his campaign when he takes to Centre Court in the first evening match against Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri.
Dimitrov, the Bulgarian world No 4, is making his second appearance in Dubai. His first came in 2011 when he was defeated in the first round by Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who incidentally competes in the first match on Centre Court when he faces Croatian Borna Coric.
That contest is followed by Gasquet’s compatriot and second seed in Dubai Lucas Pouille, who takes on Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis.
The action on Centre Court concludes with Damir Dzumhur, the fourth seed from Bosnia-Herzegovina, against German qualifier Yannick Maden.
Updated: February 26, 2018 10:26 PM