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Seventh time lucky for Baghdatis

Marcos Baghdatis toppled Roger Federer 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) on Tuesday, saving three match points en route to his first victory in seven tries against the Swiss world number one.

“Seven is my lucky number,” Baghdatis said after polishing off the 16-time Grand Slam champion in two hours and 22 minutes to reach the fourth round of the Indian Wells ATP Masters 1000.

He finished it off with a service winner on his first match point — after surviving a match point in the 12th game of the third set, when Federer netted a backhand.

Federer’s other two match points came at 5-4 of the second set — when he took a 15-40 lead on Baghdatis’s serve but fired first a forehand and then a backhand long and Baghdatis went on to hold serve and even the set.

Baghdatis broke Federer in the next game, the Swiss sending a forehand long to set up break point, then netting a backhand.

The last time Federer surrendered a match after holding at least one match point was in the 2006 Rome final, against Rafael Nadal.

Federer had taken a 3-1 lead in the third set with a break in the fourth game, but Baghdatis — whose head-to-head record against Federer includes a loss in the 2006 Australian Open final — broke back in the seventh game, setting up the break with a blistering cross-court winner before Federer netted a forehand.

“It was one of those matches where you play well most of the time, and don’t play well when you really have to,” said Federer, who was playing his first tournament since his Australian Open triumph. “It’s a pity.”

Andy Murray, the man who fell to Federer in the Australian Open final, booked his fourth-round berth with a straight-sets victory over unfamiliar foe Michael Russell.

World number four Murray beat the American — ranked 68th in the world — 6-3, 7-5.

But Russell, who has never reached an ATP Tour final, didn’t go quietly, breaking the Briton in the ninth game of the second set as Murray served for the match, putting the set back on serve after Murray’s early break.

“I would have liked to have won, closed it out there 3 and 3, but I did well to stay composed at the end,” said Murray, who brought it to a close when he broke Russell in the final game.

Sixth-seeded Swede Robin Soderling needed just one break of serve to post a 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 win over Spain’s Feliciano Lopez. Soderling, last year’s French Open runner-up, fired 14 aces in a dominant performance on serve as he bids for a second title of 2010 to go with the one he captured in Rotterdam.

He holds a 2-0 career record over his fourth-round opponent, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.

Tsonga blasted 17 aces as he overcame a slow start to beat Spain’s Albert Montanes 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Spaniard Albert Montanes.

Andy Roddick, seeded seventh, used a break of serve in each set to beat Thiemo De Bakker of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-4.

Roddick, who opened his season with a victory in Brisbane, also reached the final last month in San Jose, where he lost to Fernando Verdasco.

Roddick next faces Austrian Jurgen Melzer, who advanced on a walkover when Germany’s Simon Greul withdrew from their scheduled match because of illness. — AFP

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