21:01:2008 - 13:01 EET
Jan 19 2008
Baghdatis: 'I was defending my country'
Γράφει ο/η Θεόφιλος Δουμάνης   
Greek-Cypriot tennis champ, Marcos Baghdatis, has pleaded for a fair go so he can focus on bringing down Lleyton Hewitt in tonight’s night's Australian Open crunch match.

Baghdatis, a crowd favourite at Melbourne Park after winning over fans with his fairytale run to the 2006 final, has angered Melbourne's Turkish Cypriot community after 10-month-old footage of him on video-sharing website YouTube received publicity today.
There have been calls for the 22-year-old to be expelled from Australia over the video clip which shows him at barbecue in Melbourne last year holding a flare with members of Greek supporters group Hellas Fan Club who were chanting "Turks Out of Cyprus".
It's a sensitive issue for Australian Open officials who have seen ethnic rivalry surface in crowd trouble in the past.
Baghdatis said today he just wanted the matter to go away.
"There has been a lot of coverage of me appearing in a video on youtube.com," he said in a statement.
"In that video from 2007, I was supporting the interest of my country, Cyprus, while protesting against a situation that is not recognised by the United Nations.
"Now I would like to concentrate on the tournament and ask everyone to respect that. I love the Australian Open and want to do well here."
Lauding Baghdatis as one of the "great ball-strikers" in men's tennis, Hewitt acknowledged he would have his work cut out advancing to a fourth-round tussle on Monday with either Serbian third seed Novak Djokovic or big-serving American Sam Querrey.
The YouTube distraction aside, Baghdatis was well-satisified with his form, and little wonder after the 15th seed pulled out all stops to quell Safin's inspired comeback attempt.
"He was just playing unbelievable. He was hitting the lines. He was just playing so big," Baghdatis said.
"My first two rounds were tough. I took them match per match. I'm pretty happy with the way I'm playing at the moment.
"I'm playing very good. I'm moving good on court. I'm fit. I'm hitting the ball good, clean. I'm serving not bad.
"So I guess I'm ready for any opponent."
A four-set winner over Hewitt at Wimbledon two years ago in their only previous meeting, Baghdatis was unfazed at finishing after midnight on Thursday, affording his rival an extra seven hours' rest.
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