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View Full Version : Waiting for the final..Mr, Baghdatis Sr speaks


pound cat
01-28-2006, 04:40 PM
Family's sacrifice for Baghdatis' success
By Simon Hart n Limassol




Six years after he waved a tearful goodbye to his 14-year-old son with the dream that the boy would one day be good enough to reach a Grand Slam tennis final, you would expect Christos Baghdatis to be revelling in the euphoria that is sweeping Cyprus. But beneath the smiles there is also sadness.

Yes, of course he is overjoyed that, at the age of 20, his beloved Marcos should be stepping out at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena for an Australian Open final against Roger Federer. What father could not be proud of that? And yet, just when he should be celebrating his good fortune, the memories of his family's sacrifices come flooding back.

Unable to find the coaching support in Cyprus to nurture Marcos's precocious talent, Christos took the agonising decision to send his son away to Paris in 1999 to live with a French family and train at the Bob Brett Tennis Academy. In tennis terms, the move was justified by Marcos's remarkable achievement in defying his 500-1 odds at the start of the tournament to reach today's final, but there was a big emotional price.

"For me and for my wife, our family is like a chain and we feel that one ring of this chain is missing, and that ring is Marcos," he says. "Of course I love him, I adore him, but I feel there's something missing in my life. I didn't enjoy his childhood very much. I wasn't able to enjoy him when he was 14 or 16. We gave him up for another family because there was something else he had to do later on in his life."

Christos is still haunted by the memory of how, for the first three months that Marcos was away, the boy would ring his parents in tears every night begging to come home. Those calls brought Christos into conflict with his wife, Androulla, who urged him to reconsider his decision, and even Marcos's coach advised that it might be better to abandon the whole exercise because the boy was unable to cope. But Christos stood firm, and slowly his son settled down to his new life.

"I always used to encourage him," recalls Christos. "I used to tell him to hang on two or three more days just to see what happens, but it was hard. My wife and I, we used to fight all the time. It was very hard for her to think that her son was suffering. If you ask me if I would do it again, I would tell you no. It was too much of a sacrifice for us, and it was too hard for him. Imagine, you are 14 years old and you are having to train seven hours a day away from home. The only days off were Saturday and Sunday, and then he was so tired that all he could do was sleep. That is no life."

Now, as Christos watches his son's heroics in Melbourne on television in his Limassol home, the pain of those years of separation grows more intense. He and his son are still close - the pair have a pact that neither will shave until he is out of the tournament, leaving them both with generous, two-week beards - but there is also a distance between them. "I left him somewhere as a child and suddenly what I see before me is a man. He's still my blood, my soul, but there is something missing. It's like reading a novel. You read chapters one to four, then suddenly you miss out chapter five and skip to chapter six. Even if the novel has a happy ending, you're still left wondering what was in chapter five."

Christos, a 56-year-old factory worker who arrived in Cyprus from the Lebanon in 1973, is himself a social tennis player in a country that boasts only a dozen clubs and 2,000 registered players. His two oldest sons, Marinos, 29, and Petros, 27, were both good enough to represent Cyprus in the Davis Cup and his seven-year-old adopted daughter, Zena, is also showing promise.

But Marcos is the one whose natural skill quickened the pulse. When he was only six, a visiting Bulgarian coach declared there was no greater talent in the world. By 14, Marcos, too, was in the Davis Cup team, but Christos knew he would go no further if he stayed in Cyprus. Both Marinos and Petros were good players but had failed to progress to the next level and, besides, Marcos was talking about abandoning tennis to concentrate on football. When the academy in Paris offered to help, Christos realised what he had to do. The Cyprus Tennis Federation put up some money, but much of the cost had to be shouldered by the family.

There is still a lingering resentment about the Cyprus government's lack of financial support for the first truly world-class athlete the country has produced.

Having been publicly outspoken about the government's miserliness, Christos is now treading a more diplomatic path. Another highly sensitive issue has emerged - whether Marcos will have to do his compulsory 26 months' military service. Christos is optimistic that something can be worked out. Surely the millions his son is set to generate in publicity for the country must count as some sort of national service.

Meanwhile, a new worry is eating away at Christos - the realisation that, whatever the outcome of today's final, his son's life has changed forever.

"Marcos won't have a private life any more, and I don't like that. If he becomes a public figure, particularly in a small country like this, he won't have a nice life. I don't mind pressure from the public if they are just curious about him but the media pressure is a different thing. I will refuse it, I will reject it all the time. It's frightening."

His protectiveness is understandable. He was the one who set his son on the path to fame. Now he feels responsible for the consequences.

"When you take a decision like that, you have a vision only of the immediate benefits," he says. "You could not have imagined all this."

= marios =
01-28-2006, 04:58 PM
His father hasn't been on television at all over here in Cyprus. It's his wife that the reporters go to after Marcos' successes in the AO. I was wondering about that, cause it's the father that made the decision of sending him to France. He is right to want to protect him from the pitfalls of fame, but he also has to realise that Marcos is a grown-up now and can take care of himself.

Funny thing, is that Marcos has always been a huge football (soccer, to Americans) fan and his favorite team, Apollon Limassol FC, is on the way to winning its first championship in quite a few years here in Cyprus. I'm sure he hates having to miss all those matches.

Whatever happens in a few hours i'm sure Marcos can handle it, whether it is the dizzying highs of an upset victory over one of the best players the sport has ever produced or the widely expected and predicted lows of a loss.

Personally, i'll be happy if Marcos can put up a fight. Make Roger sweat. If he has to go down he better go down in flames.

pound cat
01-28-2006, 05:11 PM
= marios = Great to have a Cypriot here...please tell us the Cypriot reaction to the outcome. I see that mr and mrs B declined the government's offer to sent them to Australia for the final all expenses paid. I'm sure thay've both been crying with emotion all week. Ellla Marcos. What a great person for AO and tennis.

= marios =
01-28-2006, 06:04 PM
= marios = Great to have a Cypriot here...please tell us the Cypriot reaction to the outcome. I see that mr and mrs B declined the government's offer to sent them to Australia for the final all expenses paid. I'm sure thay've both been crying with emotion all week. Ellla Marcos. What a great person for AO and tennis.

Thanks.

I think Marcos asked his parents not to attend the game, cause he didn't want the extra pressure or maybe cause he didn't want to jinx his run. Every athlete has (a) lucky charm(s). Marcos doesn't want to upset the balance. He doesn't shave, he seems to wear the same t-shirt (or t-shirt design) all the time, he's told his parents to keep watching on TV instead of flying there, he doesn't watch the other matches on TV...need i go on?

But forget all that. 6 hours till the final! I'm pumped up!

Tennis_Fan_109
01-28-2006, 08:42 PM
They said his brother will go to the final to represent the family. I'm sure they'll show him in the stands. They Cypriots think they are all tennis experts now, they have never even seen a Federer game and they think he can beat him. Hehe I guess thats human nature though.

btw it should be 'Ela Marco', its one 'l' and also the 's' goes away at the end of a name if you are talking in the second person. (Yes, I'm from Cyprus too, but I've been a tennis fan for a little longer than 10 days unlike the rest of the country)

= marios =
01-28-2006, 08:53 PM
They said his brother will go to the final to represent the family. I'm sure they'll show him in the stands. They Cypriots think they are all tennis experts now, they have never even seen a Federer game and they think he can beat him. Hehe I guess thats human nature though.

btw it should be 'Ela Marco', its one 'l' and also the 's' goes away at the end of a name if you are talking in the second person. (Yes, I'm from Cyprus too, but I've been a tennis fan for a little longer than 10 days unlike the rest of the country)

It's true that most Cypriots don't know the first thing about tennis, but i wouldn't say they all think he can beat him. Those who do probably realise it's wishful thinking. Obviously, there are a lot of ultra-nationalistic morons who think this is a "war" and we need to to win for the nation's honour or some bs like that, but overall i'd say most people i've talked to seem quite realistic but hopeful.

I've emphasized over and over again that Federer is not Roddick, nor Ljubicic nor Nalbandian. He's a freakin' machine. He's possibly the most talented tennis player the sport has ever seen.

But i've said Baghdatis can do it before every game so i don't want to jinx it now by saying he doesn't stand a chance. I think he can do it.

theJuniorACE
01-28-2006, 08:53 PM
Thanks.

I think Marcos asked his parents not to attend the game, cause he didn't want the extra pressure or maybe cause he didn't want to jinx his run. Every athlete has (a) lucky charm(s). Marcos doesn't want to upset the balance. He doesn't shave, he seems to wear the same t-shirt (or t-shirt design) all the time, he's told his parents to keep watching on TV instead of flying there, he doesn't watch the other matches on TV...need i go on?

But forget all that. 6 hours till the final! I'm pumped up!

a minor correction,
i think cliff stated during one of the commentarys during the Fed/Kiefer match
his father declined the oppurtonity to go to the Aussie Open,
his father said that he didnt want to change his son's current mood which has gotten him this far and is just as happy watching on TV like everyone else on the island.
He also said that he did no wish to jinx the match

On another note,
This is in no offense to anyone of cyprus,
but im just curious as to what the major religion is on cyprus
no offense to anyone(sorry, i no its annoying, but i dont want anyone to get mad reading this), b/c i see that marcos plays with a cross on his neck and was wondering if it was eastern orthodox perhaps
or possibly just christian?

= marios =
01-28-2006, 08:59 PM
a minor correction,
i think cliff stated during one of the commentarys during the Fed/Kiefer match
his father declined the oppurtonity to go to the Aussie Open,
his father said that he didnt want to change his son's current mood which has gotten him this far and is just as happy watching on TV like everyone else on the island.
He also said that he did no wish to jinx the match

I heard his mother yesterday and she said it was up to Marcos. If he wanted them to go they'd go. If not, they would stay at home.

On another note,
This is in no offense to anyone of cyprus,
but im just curious as to what the major religion is on cyprus
no offense to anyone(sorry, i no its annoying, but i dont want anyone to get mad reading this), b/c i see that marcos plays with a cross on his neck and was wondering if it was eastern orthodox perhaps
or possibly just christian?

The large majority is Greek Orthodox.

Deuce
01-28-2006, 11:39 PM
Very good article.

Thanks for posting it.

Tennis_Fan_109
01-29-2006, 12:31 AM
Yeah Marie, but you can even hear his fans in the stadium chanting things like 'I Kipros einai Elliniki', 'E3w oi Tourkoi apo tin Kipro', 'Enosis', etc. (These mean 'Take the Turks out of Cyprus' and 'Cyprus is Greek, Unite Cyprus with Greece' which is the kind of stuff that divided the island in the first place.). Just ****ed me off they bring that stuff into a tennis match.

= marios =
01-29-2006, 04:26 AM
Yeah Marie, but you can even hear his fans in the stadium chanting things like 'I Kipros einai Elliniki', 'E3w oi Tourkoi apo tin Kipro', 'Enosis', etc. (These mean 'Take the Turks out of Cyprus' and 'Cyprus is Greek, Unite Cyprus with Greece' which is the kind of stuff that divided the island in the first place.). Just ****ed me off they bring that stuff into a tennis match.

They ain't saying anything wrong though. Just creating a football atmosphere. If the Cyprus national football team was competing on such a huge level i'd expect to hear the same.

The "enosis" stuff is ridiculous of course, but i didn't mind the "Kick the Turks out of Cyprus" chants. I'm all for that. They didn't say "Turkish-Cypriots", they said "Turks". They are here illegally, aren't they? No nation recognises their right to be here, yet here they are 32 years later.

Anyway, let's not start a political debate on such an great day.

xanctus
01-29-2006, 07:49 AM
Tennis Fan, I think what the supporters chanting about those words are good...the WORLD need to know the real situation here. I am not Greek, but since my roommate were Cypriots and I was hanging out with most Greeks, I began to understand how great Cypriots and Greeks are. I love the history and all the architectures...amazing place and people.

But again, I also agree with Marios, let's not talk about politics...
I think it was a good game for Marcos, as he will be better and better sooner or later. Also, it's really good thing for the cypriots and greek tennis I bet from now on.
Yazzooouuu re file :D

theJuniorACE
01-29-2006, 10:08 AM
= marios = ,
thanks i was interested as to what exactly Baghdatis was

but as to the decision of his parents going or not,
im jus calling it by what cliff fowler said,
but w/e no biggie

Mighty Matteo
01-13-2011, 06:50 PM
I heard his mother yesterday and she said it was up to Marcos. If he wanted them to go they'd go. If not, they would stay at home.



The large majority is Greek Orthodox.

reviving an old thread.....
he is probably maronite catholic because his father is lebanese. i am not sure about his mother, but it would make sense since his roots are lebanese. another reason why they would send him to paris to play tennis.

kishnabe
01-13-2011, 07:32 PM
I read the title and though how arrogant of Mr Baghdatis Sr to think Baggy would be in the final of 2011 Aussie open. Then I saw it was 2006 :(!

Manus Domini
01-13-2011, 07:36 PM
:D nice one kish