Federer Praises Baghdatis Upon Retirement: 'He Was Always A Lovely Guy'

Berrettini beats Cypriot star in Wimbledon second round

Roger Federer was full of praise for Marcos Baghdatis, who bid farewell to professional tennis at The Championships on Thursday in order to spend more time with his family.

Speaking after he reached the Wimbledon third round, Federer said, “I remember Marcos when I played him at the [2004] US Open in a night session match. He was still very young. He had super long hair. I think he took a set off me, too [Federer won 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-1 in the second round]. You could see how good he could become because he had the speed, simple technique, forehand, backhand, which is always going to help you throughout the course of your career.

“He also had a winner's mentality, liked the big stage. I think that's also one of the reasons he did well here and also in Australia when the big matches came about. Off the court, he was always a lovely guy, always very funny, easy-going, good to be around with. So I liked him on the court, off the court.”

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The 34-year-old Baghdatis, who rose to a career-high No. 8 in the ATP Rankings, lost to Federer in the 2006 Australian Open final and advanced to the semi-finals at Wimbledon later that year. He ends his career with a 349-273 tour-level match record, which included four ATP Tour singles titles.

“I think for Cyprus, he did so much coming from such a small country and becoming a sporting superstar,” said Federer. “I'm sure that was a big deal at home… He's always been a joy to watch also for us players, so we'll miss him.”

Italian Matteo Berrettini, the No. 17 seed, put an end to Baghdatis’ 15-year pro career with a 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory on Thursday evening over one hour and 42 minutes. After the match, Baghdatis emptied the contents of his bag, giving away his tennis racquets, match shirts and shoes to fans on No. 2 Court at the All England Club.

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“I didn't want to leave the court,” said Baghdatis. “It was a nice farewell. It felt amazing. Again, I want to thank everybody for staying and giving me that last emotion.

“I'm crying, but I'm happy. It's a happy moment for everybody, because I'm really excited for the future and the only thing I'm sad leaving behind is the last part: the fans and the emotions that they always gave me.”

His wife, former WTA player Karolina Sprem, is expecting their third child later this year.