Beating Roger Federer

Marcos Baghdatis beat Roger Federer. What? I’m still shaking my head as much as the rest of you.

It was a night match. Third round. Federer’s parents were in the stands. Everyone came to see the master make mincemeat out of the man from Cyprus. Losing a third round match at Indian Wells wasn’t part of the plan for Federer, yet winning wasn’t in the cards either.

There are only a handful of players who have taken out Roger Federer over the years (other than Nadal), and each one will tell you that it was the match of their career. Del Potro, Davydenko, Blake, Fish, and Tsonga are on the list...among others.

If you asked Roger Federer about what he considers to be the loss of his career, the third round at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open wouldn’t make the cut.

The thing about beating Roger Federer is, you can’t simply claim victory by the score at the end of the match. He is a mastermind of the game. He has more layers to his game than an onion, and to play against him would probably make you cry. To a certain extent, beating Federer almost seems wrong. As if it's not supposed to happen. But last night, it did.

To beat Federer at his best is, to say the least, nearly impossible. (Just ask Andy Roddick.) To beat him when he’s not at his best is simply good luck, or even good timing. Last night, Federer was not at his best. He hadn’t played a match since the Australian Open final, and was iffy about playing Indian Wells after recovering from a lung infection.

That’s not to say that Baghdatis didn’t have to fight for his win. The No. 33 ranked Cypriot kept his nerves in check after saving two match points in the second set. He climbed back up into the third set when Federer was leading 4-1 and saved a third match point, forcing a tiebreak. But 46 unforced errors from Federer gave Baghdatis a chance to prove he was the better player last night. And he did.

But the fact that Federer lost when he was not at his best shouldn’t take away from the enjoyment Baghdatis must be experiencing after winning the match of his career. The 24-year-old has had two rough years battling injuries, and finally seems to be back on track to reaching his full potential. He’s jumped about 70+ ranking points since last March, and has gained a much needed confidence boost along the way.

Marcos Baghdatis will take on Spaniard Tommy Robredo in the fourth round at Indian Wells. Let’s see if he continues his winning ways.