Paris Flashback: Rafael Nadal edges Marcos Baghdatis to reach final on debut

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Paris Flashback: Rafael Nadal edges Marcos Baghdatis to reach final on debut

Making a debut at the Paris Masters 1000 event in 2007, Rafael Nadal reached the final following a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 triumph over Marcos Baghdatis. It was Nadal's third notable season in a row despite early exits in Cincinnati, the US Open and Madrid, carried by the third Roland Garros trophy and second Wimbledon final.

Following the quarter-final loss in Madrid, Rafa came to Paris for the first time and defeated Filippo Volandri, Stan Wawrinka and Mikhail Youzhny without losing a set, hoping for more of the same against Baghdatis in the semis.

The Cypriot pushed Rafa to the limits, winning the opening set and having a break advantage in the second before the Spaniard turned the tables and won sets two and three to remain on the title course. It was their fifth match since Indian Wells 2006 and the fifth triumph for world no.

2, who lost serve three times and delivered four breaks to cross the finish line first. Baghdatis stayed on level terms with Rafa in the more extended exchanges, with the Spaniard forging the triumph in the shortest and mid-range rallies that sent him over the top.

Marcos had more winners and more unforced errors, unable to tame his strokes in the decider and score one of the most notable victories of his career. Rafa held at love in the opening game with a drop shot winner and rattled off five straight points on the return for a 2-0 advantage.

Finding his strokes, Baghdatis hammered a forehand down the line winner in game five to pull the break back and painted a backhand down the line winner in the next one to level the score at 3-3.

In 2007, Rafael Nadal reached the final at the Paris Masters debut.

Losing ground in those moments, Rafa sprayed a forehand error to get broken in game seven and hand the previous four games to his opponent, who had the upper hand.

Marcos saved break points and brought the eighth game home to open a 5-3 lead, securing the opening set with a hold at love at 5-4. With a massive boost on his side and a rock-solid backhand to carry him through, Baghdatis grabbed a break at 15 at the beginning of the second set and held with an ace for a 6-4, 2-0 advantage.

In one of the key moments of the entire encounter, Rafa placed a forehand down the line return winner in game six to pull the break back, holding at 15 in the next one to open a 4-3 gap. The Spaniard held after deuce in game nine with a service winner and clinched a break with a brilliant return at 5-4 to force a decider.

Losing steam, Baghdatis sent a tired backhand long in the fourth game to suffer a break, allowing Rafa to open a 4-1 lead with a backhand down the line winner in the next one. Serving for the victory at 5-3, Nadal held at 30 to seal the deal and advance into the 12th Masters 1000 final at 21.