Baghdatis determined to do Cyprus proud
Originally published on: 31/07/12 00:00
The Limassol-born 27-year-old is one of Cyprus’ strongest medal hopes and, after beating Go Soeda and Richard Gasquet in his opening two matches, says he is determined to do his nation proud at the All England Club. Cyprus has sent athletes to every Olympic Games since 1980, but the country has never won an Olympic medal.
“I’m feeling the pressure of the Olympics with all the expectations we have back home,” Baghdatis admitted. “You want to give more during the Olympics than a Grand Slam. Cyprus has never got a medal before so it’s something amazing to achieve.
“It’s in my head. It’s been in my head for months now. Now the moment has come. It’s a bit stressful but it will go away.”
Baghdatis has played at the Olympics just once before – in Athens in 2004 – but says his experience in London is wholly different. “I was 19-years-old at the time [of my last Games],” he said. “I was young. I had nothing to lose. I was enjoying every moment and the expectations were not the same.”
Despite his desire to perform, Baghdatis has been absorbing the atmosphere of the Olympics. The world No.45 carried the flag for Cyprus at the Games’ Opening Ceremony on Friday night and though he battled with a strong wind, admits it was a memorable experience.
“It was very windy and I didn’t take the [holder] – the thing you put in the flag,” he said. “The flag itself is not very heavy but with the wind and everything… it was kind of difficult. But it was a great moment and one of the best and proudest moments in my life.”
Baghdatis plays Andy Murray next but insists he is unfazed by the prospect of taking on the world No.4 on his home turf. The Cypriot has lost four of their seven previous meetings, but though he lost their encounter at the All England Club this year, he did win their first meeting on Centre Court all the way back in 2006.
"I've played Andy two times on the Centre Court at Wimbledon so, no I’m not worried about [the crowd]. For sure, he’s a great player, he has the upper hand. And if he wins today, he has the upper hand against me for sure.
"[I'll] just go out there and give it a try. You never know."