"In the long term, I would like to see myself in the Top 20 again, which means that I will need to work even harder.”
Still going strong
Marcos Baghdatis can’t recall a time when he wasn’t on a tennis court. With two older brothers to physically and metaphorically look up to he would spend all his time on court, even before he was able to pick up a racket. His journey to a career high 8th in the ATP ranking began when he was just 4 and it was always his dream to become a pro tennis player. “When I watched the ’92 Wimbledon final between Andre Agassi and Goran Ivanisevic, I knew then that I wanted to become a pro player, just like them.”
Andre Agassi was a huge idol for Marcos and Agassi’s first Grand Slam win was a big part of his motivation to pursue his own tennis career. For Marcos to reach his dream he knew he was going to have to make some very big changes in his life. His parents decided that for him to get the support and training he needed he would have to leave Cyprus. They sent him to a training academy in Paris, ultimately a tough but incredibly crucial moment in the young star's career. His family have always been his support network and the inspiration behind his never give up attitude. “Tennis is an individual sport, you’re out there on your own. You don’t have any teammates with you on the court who can motivate and support you, like you would have in football for example. Therefore, you need to have a strong team in the background.”
Marcos has always been determined to become the very best person and player possible to make it up to his friends and family who have supported him along every step of his career. They have become very strong motivators for the Cyprian tennis star to never stop pushing.
After 14 years on the tour Marcos concedes that setting goals helps him keep his focus. Without continually re-evaluating and setting new objectives he may not have reached the heights in his career that he has so far. His most recent goal for the year is to finish the season somewhere between the top 30-50. A target he is confident in fulfilling if he can maintain and improve on his 2015 form.
His family are incredibly important and having just had his second child he is trying his best to be as realistic as possible about combining his family life and sporting career. For the mean time his priorities are changing and he is trying to focus on being the best father and husband he can without letting his tennis suffer too much. “I need to find a good balance between tennis and my family. However, in the long term, I would like to see myself in the Top 20 again, which means that I will need to work even harder.”
This summer, Rio will host the 2016 Olympic Games, the third occasion that Marcos will have played in an Olympics event. In the world of professional tennis there are a series of ‘big’ tournaments coming up before Rio but Marcos has one clear goal for the 2016 Summer Games: “The first step is to get to the medal round. And once I get there, anything can happen. It would be a dream to win the first gold medal for my country. But that is still really far away.” His attention is clearly on his upcoming tournaments and giving his very best with each performance, ultimately hoping to peak for Rio. Being in the sport for over a decade he has seen many changes in tennis and has shifted his own training to adapt to the added physicality in the modern day game. There is now a lot more strength and stamina required to compete at the top level. Even though the sport is now more physically demanding than ever his superstitious pre-match rituals are one thing that have always remained the same. “I have a very strict pre-game routine that helps me focus. It determines more or less everything I do – from packing my bag the night before a match to waking up in the morning and setting foot on the court. I guess that approx. 90% of the things I do prior to a match always follow the same routine.” With a big season ahead culminating with the Olympic Games Marcos is not leaving anything up to chance.
Next year will be his 14th season on tour and he has his own unique take on what ‘Never Stop Pushing’ means to him; “Only one word: Life. That’s it, very simple. ‘Never Stop Pushing’ does not only describe my personal life, but also life in general. You always need to push yourself and keep moving forward. There are always new tasks and challenges coming up along the way. You cannot afford to stand still. There’s no time to waste.”
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