Popular Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis is back from injury and is eyeing-off top honours at the inaugural Brisbane International tennis tournament.
The world No.98, who was once ranked No.8, is not just determined to claw his way back to a top 20 spot after an injury-plagued year – his ultimate goal is to secure a top-five ranking.
“I feel happy being on court again … I feel fitter than ever,” Baghdatis told reporters on Tuesday.
“It was a bad year, and I want to forget about it and just try to come back and get to the top 20.
“My objective is to get to the top five once in my lifetime – so that’s what I’ll try to do.”
The 23-year-old won the hearts of Australians after making it to the final of the 2006 Australian Open, before losing to champion Roger Federer in four sets.
He acknowledges the crowd support, which he credits to Greek and Cypriot patriotism and the Australian laid-back approach to life.
“All Australians are pretty cool, pretty nice, I love coming back every year,” he said.
At 182cm and weighing 82kg, the right-hander is looking fit and healthy, but aside from the other players, the hot Australian summer could prove to be stiff competition.
The Cypriot had to stop and rest a few times during his warm up inside Rafter Arena at the new Queensland Tennis centre.
“It’s a bit more warmer (than home) … that’s why I came early to have one week in front of me to prepare,” he said.
“It’s my second day here, so I feel a bit better than yesterday, so I’ll see how it goes.
“I’m pretty happy I’m here, so I’ll try to win some matches, and why not to win the tournament, that’s my goal.”
Although he’s in Australia for the festive season, Baghdatis’ determination to win and regain his place at the top of the rankings, means he won’t be partying this New Year’s Eve.
Instead opting to visit his dad and grandmother in Sydney.
After the Brisbane International, which starts on January 4, Baghdatis will play at Kooyong before the Australian Open.