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Saturday, January 21, 2006
Updated: January 25, 4:21 AM ET
Baghdatis able to absorb Roddick's power

By Patrick McEnroe
Special to ESPN.com

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Marcos Baghdatis put on an awesome display of strategic tennis in the Australian Open Saturday night.

He used the court beautifully and took it away from Andy Roddick with his court positioning. Roddick was way too defensive from the baseline in this fourth-round match. I think Baghdatis was able to hit almost three times as many winners from the baseline as Roddick.

He outmaneuvered Roddick without having more power than Roddick, and to me that was the key to the match. Baghdatis is an up-and-comer. He has a beautiful game, kept his composure throughout the entire match and closed it out in style, winning the final game at love.

When Roddick plays someone who can return his serve and handle his power, he's not adjusting his position when he needs to. That was the key to the match. Dick Enberg made a good analogy: If you throw a fastball 95 miles an hour, but you are throwing it from second base, that's not as effective as throwing it 86 from the pitcher's mound. And that's where Andy lost this match Saturday night.

Tennis is a game of positioning and taking away angles and options from your opponent. Baghdatis put on a clinic on how to cut the court off. He hit some great shots on the run, and for a guy who's just 20 years old playing in the round of 16 for just the second time in his career at a Grand Slam, he showed a lot of composure.

The reality is the reality (that there are no Americans left in the field). We were lucky at the U.S. Open in that we had three men get to the quarterfinals (Andre Agassi, James Blake and Robby Ginepri) and then two in the semifinals.

Soccer aside, tennis is probably the most global game there is. There are more players coming from all over the world, whether it's South America, Europe, Eastern Europe. The days of the United States dominating are over.

Now, in saying that, I was disappointed with the results of the Americans. I really thought Ginepri or Blake would make a better run, and I was obviously shocked that Roddick went out. He played well the first three rounds, but in Baghdatis, Roddic played someone who could handle his power and pace. Roddick didn't handle this well.

I thought Roddick had a chance early in the third set. I felt like Baghdatis was tiring a little bit, Roddick had a couple of break points early in the third round and he waited for Baghdatis to miss instead of making him miss. And that means being aggressive, not necessarily going for a clean winner but hitting the ball and pushing your opponent around.

Roddick just got the ball back in play, and against some players that can be enough. But against a guy who was full of confidence, hitting the ball cleanly, Baghdatis was able to sneak out of a couple of holes early in the third set. Then his confidence grew, because I don't believe Roddick was able to impose his power on him; he was too far behind the baseline and allowing Baghdatis to gain confidence. And once he got out of the third set, I really felt Baghdatis wasn't going to fold and he really dominated the fourth set.

I think Roddick was surprised by Baghdatis' ability to hit that many winners and match Roddick in the ace department (Baghdatis had 16 aces, Roddick, 15). That shocked me. Andy didn't make the midcourt adjustments that you need to make and Baghdatis played very well from the start and got better as the match went on once he realized Roddick's power wasn't bothering him.

Patrick McEnroe, the U.S. Davis Cup captain, provides analysis for ESPN.com during the Australian Open.