Former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis, who retired from tennis in 2019, believes that there is one common thread binding the Big 3 (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic) in men’s tennis. And that is the will to improve.
“One never stops learning, there are always ways to improve ourselves, on and off the court,” Baghdatis said in an interview with The Cyrpus Mail recently.
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“Take for example the big three, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic. People see them and think what they are doing is normal.
“But I assure you it’s not, if it was I would have done the same!
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“What they have achieved is out of this world. And the reason they are still out there winning tournaments is because they never stop learning, they always find ways to improve themselves, even after almost two decades at the top.”
Baghdatis is the most accomplished player from Cyprus and peaked at a career high of No 8 in the world ranking in 2006. Earlier that year, he had carved out a memorable run in Melbourne, unexpectedly making it all the way to the finals at the Australian Open.
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Cheered on by a legion of Greek-Cypriot fans, Baghdatis had defeated Andy Roddick, Ivan Ljubicic and fourth seed David Nalbandian to make the summit clash. His fairytale run was stopped by Federer in the final.
The Big 3 have almost been a constant through his 16-year-career and in his 24 clashes against them, Baghdatis has been able to win only two: one each against Federer and Nadal.
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While Federer and Nadal have won the most singles majors in men’s tennis (20), Djokovic, the youngest of the lot at 33, is currently at 17.
The 35-year-old Baghdatis is not sure if there is any player ready to take on the mantle from them yet.
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“It will be tough for anyone to emerge after them, even though there are great talents around,” said Baghdatis, who now works as a consultant with top-10 player Elina Svitolina.
“One of them is Jannik Sinner, he has everything to become great, including a great team around him and a legendary coach like Riccardo Piatti, which is an extremely important thing, especially at a young age such as his.”