Tennis is certainly a global game, but for some, it takes much longer to find a route to promise land. Marcos Baghdatis has been at the forefront of tennis for so long that some might not remember his elongated path toward the upper echelon of the pro game.

He was born in Cyprus, quickly became the best player in his country, and then had to leave to find better competition. While it pushed Baghdatis to new heights, it's something he's hoping to change in his post-playing career. Baghdatis spoke with Kamau Murray on this week's Podcast about everything from the journey, the climatic moments on court, and doing his best to help the next generation.

Baghdatis left home at a young age to seek a life in pro tennis, and it was a commitment that really tested his passion for the sport.

"Academies back then weren't what they are now," the Cypriot recalled. "I had to take the subway alone every morning. I missed my friends and family but I had a dream to play a Grand Slam main draw."


That goal was more than attained, as Baghdatis went on to reach a Top-10 ranking and make the fourth round or better at every Grand Slam event.

But it was his greatest achievement in the majors that is also the source of his heaviestheartbreak. In 2006 at the tender age of 20, Baghdatis went on an improbable run to the Australian Open final. Playing Roger Federer at arguably the peak of his powers, Baghdatis won the first set and was neck and neck in the second. And that's when he lost focus.

"I started thinking about the future. And all of a sudden, I hit three double faults, an unforced error, and he breaks me," Baghdatis recollected. "In any match, if you start thinking about the future and you're not in the moment and at the present time, it slips away so fast and you cannot control it."

Rather than remembered for what he didn't achieve, Baghdatis is rightfully admired and respected for what he did accomplish. He was a pioneer in his home regions, breaking down barriers and giving young kids in both Cyprus and Greece the blueprint for a pro tennis career. His four titles, consistent level and infectious attitude have certainly left a positive memory on his former peers as well. As the U12 IMG Future Stars tournament director in Athens, Baghdatis is stepping up in his desire to pay it forward and develop the next era of great tennis players in his part of the world.

Murray, like everyone else, enjoyed spending time in Baghdatis' orbit. On the topic of whether his kids play tennis, the major finalist was delighted to share that his oldest daughter plays on her own accord.

"It's something that she wants to do, but she doesn't want us to be next to her when she's playing. She plays with her coach, we have a coffee, and we go home."

Baghdatis understands the plight of a pro tennis player better than anyone, and on this podcast he discusses what made his journey special, and what he's doing to lessen the burden for those following his path.