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ATP Masters Cincinnati Preview: Nadal vs Baghdatis

Baghdatis has his work cut out for him.

Friday opened to a veritable feast of quarterfinal clashes at the Cincinnati Masters, with the best, the main course so to speak, still to come.

Indeed, we have a spectacular match ahead between Rafael Nadal and Marcos Baghdatis as they battle for a spot in the semis.

Fish vs. Murray was a flavoursome appetizer to whet the appetite; the second course between Roddick vs. Djokovic was the cold appetizer of the day, providing the least drama but as a palate cleanser, it did the trick.

The Federer vs. Davydenko intermezzo course went down as smoothly as a sorbet does and is the perfect precursor to the meat and potatoes match of the night.

Nadal is looking to redline his US Open odds in the outright win market. Winning the Cincinnati Masters title would be a step in that direction.

Nadal has never won the Cincinnati Masters title, let alone reached the final. His best to date is a semi-final account.

He is on the verge of a semi-final but standing in his way is Marcos Baghdatis who is after a giant-killing spree on Thursday, taking down Tomas Berdych – in straight sets no less.

The Spaniard enters this encounter as the solid favourite, listed at 1/4 at William Hill. Recommending his odds is a convincing head-to-head record against the Cypriot, which stands at 6-0 going into tonight’s match.

Nadal fans have cause for concern though. He’s not been his usual indomitable self in Cincy. In fact, he’s been struggling with the conditions and the faster surface.

Neither of his early round wins was easy for him. Dent tested him in the second round and nearly took a set off him. Meanwhile, Julien Benneteau actually managed to earn a match point before Nadal remembered himself and erased it with impunity to take the second set. After that close scare, Nadal cruised through the third set to send the audacious Frenchman packing.

Those wins were great in a way and they are good confidence builders. Still, the prognosis is anything but good.

Having just felled a favourite in Berdych, Baghdatis looms a legitimate threat, a threat that might be ambitious enough to go for back-to-back upsets.

Beating Nadal would not only be an even bigger upset than beating Berdych was but also it would impact the US Open bottom line, more for the Spaniard than the Cypriot naturally. Can Baggy bag such a win?

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