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Pouille vs Baghdatis ATP Montpellier live streaming, preview and tips - Pouille launches Open Sud de France title defence

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 6 Feb 2019
  • Lucas Pouille vs Marcos Baghdatis is live from Montpellier at 8.45pm local time on Thursday (7.45pm GMT)
  • Pouille won their only previous tour-level clash at the U.S. Open in four sets last year
Lucas Pouille (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Lucas Pouille plays his first match since the Australian Open when he begins his Open Sud de France title defence against former top 10 player Marcos Baghdatis in the second round on Thursday.

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Australian Open semi-finalist Lucas Pouille launches his Montpellier title defence on Thursday in the second round against former World No. 8 Marcos Baghdatis.

On the back of an outstanding run to his first Grand Slam semi-final at Melbourne Park last month, can Pouille continue his resurgent form and surge to back-to-back titles in Montpellier? There was really no indication that Pouille was about to put together the tournament he did at the Australian Open, with the Frenchman winning back-to-back matches just once after Wimbledon in 2018 and losing all four of his matches at the Hopman Cup and Sydney before arriving in Melbourne.

However, Pouille surprised everyone with a combination of fighting resilience and brilliant shotmaking, defeating Mikhail Kukushkin, Maximilian Marterer, Alexei Popyrin, Borna Coric and Milos Raonic before finally succumbing to an unstoppable Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals as the Serbian barely put a foot wrong in a 6-0 6-2 6-2 demolition. Despite the one-sided elimination, Pouille is off to a flying start with new coach Amelie Mauresmo and after admitting he’s rediscovered his love for the sport, appears ready to work his way back towards the top 10 in 2019.

Pouille first made significant waves on the ATP World Tour in 2016 when he advanced to back-to-back Grand Slam quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, beating the likes of Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal, while he would consolidate that season by taking home titles on all three surfaces in 2017 in Budapest (clay), Stuttgart (grass) and Vienna (hard). Pouille would go on to beat countrymen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet to secure the Montpellier title last year before runner-up finishes in Marseille and Dubai saw him crack the top 10 for the first time, but from there the 24-year-old barely made an impact for the remainder of 2018, making just one more quarter-final for the season (Stuttgart).

Finishing the season ranked outside the top 30 as a result, Pouille has since shot back up to No. 17 courtesy of his Australian Open run, but with a lot of points to defend over the next month, the Frenchman risks a brief rankings slide once more. Can he get off to a winning start upon his return to Montpellier on Thursday night?

Marcos Baghdatis (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Speaking of ranking slides (and surprising Australian Open runs), Marcos Baghdatis - now ranked No. 128 in the world - claimed his first tour-level victory since the U.S. Open when he beat lucky loser Ruben Bemelmans 6-2 6-4 in the opening round of Montpellier on Wednesday. Baghdatis had earlier qualified into the main draw with victories over Antoine Cornut-Chauvinc and Quentin Halys and now faces another Frenchman in Pouille, who incidentally was the man who beat the Cypriot at the U.S. Open in four sets last year.


An Australian Open runner-up in 2006 - the same season he made the Wimbledon semi-finals and hit his career-high ranking of No. 8 - Baghdatis would only make one more Grand Slam quarter-final after his breakout year, and that came at Wimbledon in 2007. One of the purest ball-strikers going around, unfortunately Baghdatis struggled with his consistency and injuries over the last decade, and while he was still capable of popping up and beating the odd top player here and there, he predominantly settled into the role of a steady 30-100 type player.

But over the last couple of years, age and injuries have slowly caught up with Baghdatis, and he’s spent some time outside the top 100 as a result. The 33-year-old has still shown glimpses of his best tennis, finishing runner-up in Chengdu in 2017 and reaching the fourth round of Indian Wells as a qualifier last year, but he’s finding it tough to perform week in and week out as he enters the twilight of his career. Baghdatis failed to qualify for Doha and the Australian Open before dropping down to Challenger level and making the quarter-finals of Rennes before Montpellier this week.

The pair have only met once at tour-level, and that was Pouille’s aforementioned four-set win at the U.S. Open last year. It will be interesting to see how Pouille performs after the euphoria of his Australian Open campaign, but given the fact he’s playing in his home country and defending a title, there should be plenty of motivation and incentive for him. Baghdatis remains a dangerous and flashy shotmaker and has nothing to lose, but Pouille has regained his confidence and should be able to take care of the inconsistent Cypriot fairly comfortably on Thursday night.


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Pouille vs Baghdatis ATP Montpellier live streaming, preview and tips - Pouille launches Open Sud de France title defence

Lucas Pouille plays his first match since the Australian Open when he begins his Open Sud de France title defence against former top 10 player Marcos Baghdatis in the second round on Thursday.

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