WIMBLEDON has two new heroes…at least for one day.
Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis and Swede Jonas Bjorkman were both full of smiles after winning their way into the men’s singles semi finals.
I was on Henman Hill / Murray Mount when Baghdatis sealed his four sets quarter final over Lleyton Hewitt just after 8pm last night. It was almost as packed as for earlier matches involving Tim and Andy.
And the fans on the hill cheered loudly as the flamboyant man from the village of Paramytha – it means “fairytale” – celebrated his win.
Watching from the stands, his mother Andry had her prayers answered as her boy – the conquer of Andy Murray – went through, helped by Aussie Hewitt’s error-strewn performance.
“I love this game,” said Marcos afterwards, who had no problems expressing his joy on court. “That’s the way I am. That’s who I am. I love playing in front of so many people.”
If he wins his semi against the winner of the match between Fin Jarkko Nieminen and Spaniard Rafael Nadal – the quarter final held over until today – the 21-year-old is on course to play Roger Federer in the final.
The defending champion defeated him earlier this year in the final of the Australian Open and looks unbeatable. But the player who was forced to leave his parents behind in Cyprus when he was 14 to train in Paris thinks he can win the tournament.
“Why not? I’m in the semis of a grand slam. Everybody can beat everybody. That’s what I think. Why not?”
Equally overjoyed was Swedish veteran Bjorkman, who thrilled the No 1 court crowd in a five set marathon victory over Radek Stepanek, which took four hours and three minutes.
At the end, he “hugged” the spectators on all four sides of the arena in a new variation of Agassi’s kiss and bow and Sharapova’s kiss and wave. “It was very emotional because I didn’t think this was going to happen at this stage of my career,” said Jonas, 34.
“So it’s just the best possible feeling I can have inside me. It’s just the greatest moment for me. You could ask me two weeks ago and I would have been happy just to come through the first round. Now I’m sitting here, going to play semis. It’s almost like a big shock. I’ve been trying to enjoy every single moment out there because I know I’m not having too many Wimbledons left in me.”
His reward is a meeting with Federer tomorrow. But first Jonas is back on Court 13 at 1pm today in the next round of the men’s doubles. He’s still smiling. “It’s a dream come true to have the opportunity to play a Wimbledon semi final against the best player in the world right now.”