Every Grand Slam tournament seems to lob up a
surprise and this year’s Australian Open novelty act is the unseeded 20-year-old from Cyprus,
Marcos Baghdatis.

inevitable result of early round upsets in tennis is a strange quarter-final or
semi-final, with somebody swimming in the deep end for the first time. (My
personal favourite was the year that first-and-last-time grand slam singles semi-finalist
Patrick McEnroe, brother of John, sat grinning in the interview room and told
reporters: “It’s just like you all expected – Edberg, Lendl, McEnroe
and Becker.”)

But Baghdatis, ranked 54 coming into Melbourne, has looked right at home, with a
free-swinging, scrambling, slightly unpolished game to ride into the last four,
cheered all the while by his United Nations of supporters in the stands.

The New York
saluted the Bag Man’s five-set win over Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic, the world’s
No. 8 and 7th seed, last night, but was uncomfortable about the
increasingly hysterical, nationalistic action in the grandstand, from the Bag
Man’s fans and local Croats rooting for Ivan.

“With both
men getting loud and occasionally unsportsmanlike support from blocks of
Croatian and Greek supporters in the crowd,” the Times’ reporter, Christopher
Clarey, wrote, centre court had felt more like a soccer stadium.

The Bag Man
said such wild scenes weren’t confined to Melbourne, telling reporters:
“Everybody are in the streets right now; all my family, parents, just
everybody, they’re having fun; everybody today stopped working in Cyprus to
watch my match.”

Reuters even
had a person on the ground to capture the excitement, in a fun read, with such
local colour as: “In scenes more reminiscent of soccer celebrations,
joyful Cypriots honked their car horns and jumped into fountains, braving
overcast skies and chilly temperatures.”

One Cypriot
admitted: “Not many people know about tennis. Cypriots are more into group
sports, like football. Then they can all gang up on the referee.”

the Cyprus News Agency only ran four paragraphs of what looked like wire copy. Maybe all their
reporters were out dancing in the street?