MELBOURNE – Marcos Baghdatis endured a nerve-racking first round victory at the Australian Open on Monday after battling 3-2 (6-7[0-7], 7-6 [7-4], 6-4, 3-6, 6-3) past Spain’s Albert Ramos.
The Cypriot will now take on Japan’s Tatsuma Ito in the next round after he also struggled in the first round against Australia's John Millman before eventually prevailing 3-2.
Ramos took the first set in a tense tie-break, with Baghdatis, currently ranked 31st in the world, returning the favour to level a match with very little to choose between the two players.
Baghdatis forced a late break in the third to go 2-1 up, but the former 2006 Australian Open finalist was pegged back by Ramos as the titanic tussle went past midnight in Melbourne.
The Spaniard, who is ranked 42nd in the ATP rankings, tried to stave off cramp in the final set but was quickly broken as Bagdatis looked to have gained a second wind.
The 28th seed broke again shortly after and had a match point on the Ramos serve, but once again the Spaniard showed heart to keep the match alive.
After well over four hours of play Baghdatis finally served out a keenly-contested encounter to book a second-round match against Ito who is currently ranked 84th in the world.