Marcos Baghdatis exited the tournament after a 6-3, 6-2 defeat at the hands of Gael Monfils on Wednesday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Former world No. 8 Marcos Baghdatis has promised to continue chasing an elusive fifth title on the ATP Tour after falling to Frenchman Gael Monfils at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday.

A runner-up at the 2006 Australian Open while also reaching the Wimbledon final the same year, this was the second year that Baghdatis has received a wild card from tournament organisers and owners Dubai Duty Free. The same year the Cypriot reached his best-ever No. 8 ranking on the Tour. His best showing in Dubai was ending runner-up at the 2016 tournament where he lost to Stan Wawrinka.

Baghdatis won his first title in 2006 at the China Open in Beijing while the last time he lifted a trophy was nine years back in the 2010 Sydney Open. “For sure, I am just happy to be playing tennis. After a certain time of my career it was tough with all those injuries, and my body just couldn’t handle the workload anymore,” Baghdatis told Gulf News.

“Right now, I am trying to enjoy as much as possible and play at this level as much as possible so that I can once again make my way up. Some days are good, some days are not, but the good thing is I am still enjoying playing tennis,” he smiled.

Now 33 and ranked No. 128, and perhaps among a generation just moving past their prime, Baghdatis loves the vibe from the crowds in Dubai. “I’ve had two wild cards here in two years, and the reason for this is that I love playing here. I am happy to be here every time. I am grateful to the organisers, especially Colm McLoughlin and Salah Tahlak for giving me a wild card for the second time this year,” he said.

“I love coming here and my family also loves coming here. This is a perfect place to be, and of course playing here is an amazing feeling,” Baghdatis said.

Born in Paramytha, Cyprus to a Lebanese father Christos and a Greek-Cypriot mother Androula, Baghdatis admitted that there was very little that he could have done against Monfils on Wednesday. “I was feeling great on court and playing well too and the plan that I had put in place with my coach was also working. But he changed things and at times that I didn’t expect, I wasn’t smart and on crucial points he served very well,” he recalled.

“It was a tough one and he changed the rhythm well. I didn’t serve well and that was the key simply because I didn’t get the free points. Finally, his only regret is not serving well,” Baghdatis shrugged.