David Ferrer was a semi-finalist here in 2011. Picture: AFP/perthnow.com.au
Spaniard David Ferrer faces the first serious test of his Australian Open campaign when he takes on popular Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the 3rd Round on Friday night. The world number five has started the new season with a bang, reaching the semi-finals in Doha before winning the ATP event in Auckland last week but faces a tougher test here. He breezed past Belgian Olivier Rochus in the straight sets on the opening day but was made to work a little bit harder against American Tim Smyzcek, before coming through in four sets.
After reaching the semi-finals of the Brisbane International at the start of the year, Baghdatis elected to have a week off going into the first major of the year and there have been some signs of rustiness in his opening two matches. The 28th seed need five sets and more than four hours to get past Albert Ramos on the opening day, before coming from a set down to defeat Japan’s Tatsuma Ito in the 2nd round.
After enjoying his best ever season in 2012 when he reached the last eight at all four Grand Slam events, the world number five will be confident of progressing to the last 16 but will be wary of an opponent that was a finalist here in 2006. The pair have met four times on the ATP Tour, with Ferrer holding a 3-1 career advantage over his younger rival. Perhaps of most interest is the fact that Baghdatis’ sole win came at this event three years ago. Meeting in the 2nd round, the Cypriot rallied from two sets down to win the match in five. Both men are supremely fit and have good records in matches that go to five sets, with Ferrer winning 65% of the time that he is involved in drawn out contests, while Baghdatis has lost just 6 of his 17 matches that have gone the distance.
While the Spaniard will undoubtedly be much fresher from having been on court for two hours less than Baghdatis in the sweltering Melbourne heat, the 28th seed has shown that he can match it with his better credentialed opponent and could well ensure that the crowd on Rod Laver Arena gets to see a long match .
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