ATP tennis event set for Athens

Athens will host a new tennis tournament this spring, the Status Athens Open 2008, to be included as part of the ATP Challenger series. The tournament’s arrival aims to put Greece on the international tennis map. Scheduled for April 12 through 20 at the Athens Tennis Club, the new tournament may feature Cypriot star Marcos Baghdatis, organizers said. Alexis Zitridis, a member of the tournament’s organizing committee, said his team was striving to confirm the popular Cypriot player’s entry. Baghdatis has been sent an invitation but has not yet replied, Zitridis said. Meanwhile, Baghdatis, who was beaten 7-5, 6-3 in the final of the Kooyong invitational tournament in Melbourne by Andy Roddick on Saturday, will meet Swede Thomas Johansson in the first round of the Australian Open, which begins today. Johansson won the Australian Open in 2002. Baghdatis, a former Australian Open junior champion and senior-level finalist two years ago, goes into the tournament as the 15th seed. In an interview with Reuters, the 22-year-old Cypriot said an Olympic gold medal would mean more to him than a first grand slam title. «For me and my country, it’s most important to win an Olympic medal,» admitted Baghdatis. After moving to Paris as a 13-year-old to focus on tennis, Baghdatis returned to Cyprus in the middle of last year.