I’m not sure whether I’m more surprised that Roger Federer lost or Marcos Baghdatis won last night here at Indian Wells. Wait, I am sure. It’s the latter.
Baggy walked on the court to face Roger last night after a long and bumpy road that tumbled him out of the top 100 at one point. Every time he stepped onto the court it seemed like something else broke – a knee or his back or, after he won Sydney earlier this year, his shoulder in the form of tendinitis.
Is Baggy injury prone or is he having trouble figuring out that hitting the top ten in a sport with an 11-month season requires prodigious practice habits? Baggy reminds me of Allen Iverson, the recently retired American basketball player who was as famous for the passion and heart he showed during games as he was for his disdain for practice. Iverson will be forever remembered for a two minute rant in which he spits out the word “practice” 19 ½ times. As if 19 weren’t enough.
Baggy is all heart on the court too. When Roger started overhitting towards the end of the second set – Roger looked like he was rushing so he could get on to something that counts, a slam maybe? – Baggy not only took advantage of the errors but he valiantly fought off a number of tough shots off the baseline. And, except for a bad game early in the fourth set, his serve was consistently good.
Baggy also fought off 6 of 8 break points but we expect that because that’s what performers do – they rise to the occasion. It’s the boring stuff they have problems with such as focus. When someone asked Baggy if growing up had something to do with his win over Roger he said:
Experience. Experience. Experience…. I think I needed some time to understand those things, and I hope I continue this way.
Intoning the benefits of experience is a whole lot better than complaining about practice but I would recommend that Baggy make friends with Andy Murray and join him for his offseason sprints in muggy hot insufferable Miami. Murray has had his share of injuries too and he still gets exhausted as shown by his recent one month break after the Australian Open, but Murray consistently works at his conditioning and so far it’s pushed him to two slam finals, one more than Baggy.
And Baggy clearly has more work to do. Today he went down to Tommy Robredo in three sets after bageling Robredo in the middle set.