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Baghdatis relieved to overcome injury hell

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/01/2017 Angelo Risso
© Dave Rowland/Getty Images

Cypriot tennis player Marcos Baghdatis is feeling younger with each passing day.

The former Australian Open finalist says the injury problems and health issues that have blighted his career are slowly fading into the rear-view mirror.

Baghdatis, 31, enjoyed a resurgent 2016 ATP campaign, reaching the US Open fourth-round, the final of the Dubai Championships and the semi-finals in Newport.

He's now in Auckland for his opening 2017 meet and third ASB Classic, having previously been knocked out of the first round in 2006 and 2014.

But there would be no exit three-peat in 2017 with Baghdatis deploying every shot in his locker to outclass former finalist Adrian Mannarino 6-4 6-4 on Tuesday.

After an extended rain break in the second game, both players re-emerged primed for action, breaking each other and leaving the set poised at 3-3.

But it was Baghdatis who eventually took control, breaking his French opponent at 5-4 following a protracted deuce before repeating the trick in the second set.

He'll now face fellow entertainer Dustin Brown in the second round.

Baghdatis told reporters he was yet to hit 100 per cent fitness but was light-years away from his horror run of knee, elbow and ankle problems in recent years.

An unspecified blood issue was also receiving treatment after previously forcing Baghdatis to contemplate tennis retirement.

"My injuries are getting better so I have fewer and fewer injuries, I had a full year last year and I didn't have to retire too many matches which is great," the Cypriot said.

Following the Classic, the world No.36 Baghdatis will head straight to the Australian Open, where he is a favourite with Melbourne's Greek-Australian community.

He doubted he was ready to repeat his 2006 run to the Australian Open final, in which he lost to Roger Federer, but wanted to cause a few surprises.

"I'm ready to go through the limits I have, you never know where that can take you," he said.

"Win it? I doubt it, I'm trying to be realistic, but I think I can make damage."

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