Wimbledon holds a special place in Marcos Baghdatis' heart. The 1992 men's final between Andre Agassi and Goran Ivanisevic was the first tennis match the Cypriot watched on television; he's a former semifinalist at the All England Club (see below); and, this fortnight, it's where he ended his playing career. On Thursday, the 34-year-old lost in the second round to Matteo Berrettini, 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
As bid adieu to the always energetic and supremely talented fan favorite, we look back on the five most memorable moments from his breakthrough 2006 season.
1. Baghdatis began the year with two hours of power against Andy Roddick at the Australian Open. Ranked 54th, the 20-year-old cut the No. 2 seed's Melbourne run short with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 fourth-round upset that no one saw coming.
2. Baghdatis rode his wave of momentum all the way to the final. He defeated three Top 10 opponents—Roddick, Ivan Ljubicic in the quarterfinals and David Nalbandian in the semifinals—drew massive crowd support in Greek-heavy Melbourne and was the story of the tournament. That is, until Roger Federer rallied from a set and break down in the final to win his third successive Grand Slam title.
3. Baghdatis continued his magical year with a semifinal run at Wimbledon. Bringing spectators to their feet around the historic grounds, the shotmaker catapulted his ranking on grass. His tournament would end against Rafael Nadal.
4. Baghdatis' US Open second-round five-set thriller was filled with pleasure and pain. Boasting a career-high ranking of No. 8, he put everything on the line against Andre Agassi, who would ultimately prevail in what would be the last victory of his career. They left the court together, exhausted and barely able to move, and later watched their match highlights on TV.
From Agassi's autobiography, Open:
“In my peripheral vision I detect slight movement,” Agassi recalled. “I turn to see Baghdatis extending his hand. His face says, ‘We did that.’ I reach out, take his hand, and we remain this way, holding hands, as the TV flickers with scenes of our savage battle.”
5. Baghdatis saved some of his best for last in 2006, winning his first career ATP title in Beijing. Brimming with confidence, he posted a dominant 6-4, 6-0 win over fourth-seeded Mario Ancic. He would go on to win four singles titles over a memorable 16-year career.