By Mario Sarmento
In a startling comeback that thrilled the fans on Stadium Court, Marcos Baghdatis rallied from a set down and 5-2 in the third set to stun Santiago Giraldo 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the men’s first round at the Sony Open Tennis Wednesday night.
In the last match of the night, American Madison Keys rolled through her first-round match at the Sony Open against Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 6-2, in just over an hour. Keys dominated on the strength of her powerful serve, winning 83 percent of her first serve points.
After looking like he was going to make an early exit in Miami, the Cypriot Baghdatis changed from a fluorescent orange shirt into a baby blue top after the first set, and his game changed as well. He took control of the second set with his serve, winning 71 percent of his first-serve points, and an even more impressive 75 percent on his second serve.
Down 5-2 in the second set, he broke the Colombian in the next game, then served three straight aces to start the ninth game, which he won to cut the deficit to 5-4. A strong forehand evened the match, and three more aces closed out the next game to give Baghdatis his first lead of the set. The match ended on a Giraldo forehand that was long, and Baghdatis sank to the ground, and kissed Stadium Court to celebrate his impressive victory. Next up is a showdown with No. 24 seed Phillip Kohlschreiber in the second round.
In other men’s first-round action, big serving Ivo Karlovic outlasted Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5); Radek Stepanek swept Daniel Brands in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0; Horacio Zeballos beat David Goffin 7-5, 6-3; Marinko Matsevic rallied from a set down to defeat Alejandro Falla, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6); Ivan Dodig came back to beat Andrey Golubev 4-6, 6-1, 6-4; and Dominic Thiem defeated Lukas Rosol 7-6 (6), 6-4; and Jiri Vesely stopped Filippo Volandri 6-4, 7-6 (1).
In the women’s first round, American Alison Riske rallied from a set down to beat Nadiya Kichenok 1-6, 7-5, 6-2; Andrea Petkovic beat Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor 6-3, 6-4; Zarina Diyas outlasted Alexandra Cadantu 6-4, 3-6, 6-2; Alja Tomlanovic beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-6 (4), 6-4; Barbora Zahlavova Strycova defeated Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6-4; and Yvonne Meusburger topped Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-3, 6-0.