(AFP) – Jan 11, 2008
MELBOURNE (AFP) — Confident Marcos Baghdatis said he was in prime shape to face Andy Roddick in Saturday's Kooyong Classic final after winning a battle of former Australian Open finalists on Friday.
Baghdatis, who lost the 2006 title match at Melbourne Park to Roger Federer, pounced on more than 60 errors from 2007 finalist Fernando Gonzalez to earn a 6-2, 7-5 victory in 70 minutes.
"I would have just trained this week had I not been invited," said the Cypriot, a late entry to the eight-man event hit by withdrawals by Federer, Tommy Haas and David Nalbandian through illness and injury.
"So I'm very glad I was able to play. I'm happy with how I'm playing -- I guess I'm ready (for the Open)."
The contest was played as 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) temperatures began to drop with the arrival of a cool change expected to plunge the mercury into the mid-20s in high summer.
"It was good to play in windy, tough conditions," said Baghdatis, the world number 16. "I've had a good week here. I'm playing better and better."
The match started as a rout for Baghdatis as uncomfortable Chilean Gonzalez failed to find his rhythm.
Baghdatis went up a double break in the opening set to sweep it in 23 minutes. But South American resistance stiffened in the second set, with Gonzalez coming back from an early break for 5-5 after saving a match point in the ninth game.
With the wind picking up, it was a war of attrition, with Baghdatis in position to close it out, albeit on his fifth match point.
Baghdatis said that he was keen to continue his form of the end of last season after reaching the Paris Masters semis in his last match of the year.
"I didn't want to stop, I felt so good," said the Cypriot. "Even if I don't play well in Australia this month, it won't matter.
"The way I'm playing I know that sooner or later I'll come good."
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