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Australian Open launches unlikely hero -

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(generated from captions) the way that it has. We'll look for

the Eiszelle names in next year's honours list. Jocelyn Nettlefold with that report. The first of the Australian Open tennis men's semifinals is being played in Melbourne tonight. And whilst there's no Lleyton Hewitt on court for home fans to cheer, a new and rather unlikely hero has emerged. He's 20-year-old Marcos Baghdatis and he comes from one of the world's lesser known tennis nations, Cyprus. Not only has he delighted crowds with his huge grin

and brilliantly eccentric game, he has an Australian connection we've been quick to exploit - there are, we're told, 9 uncles and 21 cousins living here. Add a raucous cheer squad called the 'Sweaty Dudes' and an unflinching belief that he can go all the way to Sunday's final. And Marcos Baghdatis seems set for superstardom. Natasha Johnson reports.

What's happening with this

Australian Open? In the men there's

no Australians left, there's no

Americans left, there's a guy from

Cyprus. What is going on? I just

wanted to say hi to everybody and I

love you all very much. He's become

the unlikely hero of the Australian

Open 20-year-old Marcos Baghdatis

now one game away from a Grand Slam

final. To get there he's toppled

No. 2 seed Andy Roddick and No. 7

Croation Ivan Ljubicic. It's been

Croation Ivan Ljubicic. It's been a remarkable performance, even more

remarkable performance, even more so considering he hails from the

Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

More renowned for the quality of

More renowned for the quality of the backgammon than a backhand. There

are about 70 courts and a few

thousand young people practising.

There are a number of professional

schools, a small number. But I

believe things are going to take

off. Cypriot High Commissioner

Achilleas Antoniades enjoys a

Achilleas Antoniades enjoys a little tennis among the diplomatic corp in

Canberra and is a little surprised

to find himself representing his

country courtside. In terms of country courtside. In terms of what people in Cyprus are really

passionate about, has it been

passionate about, has it been tennis in the past? No. I can be honest,

in the past? No. I can be honest, no it hasn't been. People have been

passionate about soccer. And it's a

soccer-like Greek Cypriot cheer

squad that has been willing Marcos

Baghdatis onto victory and he's

thrived on the support. Do you have

to buy tickets for them, or do they

come out and support you? I buy

come out and support you? I buy some of them. They were like a football

crowd. You had to tell them when

crowd. You had to tell them when to be quiet. I thought they might

be quiet. I thought they might have been getting away with naughty

been getting away with naughty words somehow. This is when to yell and

this is when to be quiet. It's

this is when to be quiet. It's been fantastic for the tournament.

Since the winning streak has

started, the screaming hasn't

stopped. In the grand stand and in

the loungeroom. We're used to the

soccer, you know. You can yell at

any time of the match. But when it

comes to tennis, you have to be

quiet and then that's not good.

The Yiangou home in Melbourne's

northern suburbs has become a

northern suburbs has become a shrine to Baghdatis and his Cypriot fans

haven't stopped celebrating

haven't stopped celebrating sporting success which has been a long time

coming. It means a lot, because

coming. It means a lot, because he's Cyprian and Cyprus really hasn't

gone far in many sports even though

they try. Their patriotic pride may

have inspired Baghdatis but the

defeated Andy Roddick labelled them

a bunch of 'Sweaty Dudes'. Him and

his followers, they're a great lot,

they are. They're really good.

We love all the support he gets and

everything. Makes - gives it a bit

of life. You don't mind the yelling

and screaming? No. As long as it's

not in front of us. With uncles and

cousins living here Marcos

cousins living here Marcos Baghdatis has strong Australian connections.

But success and a likeable

personality are widening his appeal.

Well next you're going to be going

up against Ivan Ljubicic or

Johannesen, what do you think about

that match? They'll be playing

tonight. Will you be watching or

celebrating with your big family?

I'll be sleeping, I think. I think

my coach will watch and I'll be

sleeping with my girlfriend. And he

certainly revived a tournament

playinged by the early exit of draw

cards like Lleyton Hewitt and

cards like Lleyton Hewitt and Serena Williams. I think he's an excellent

tennis player. I love the way he

strokes the shots and he just seems

to enjoy it. At 14, Marcos

to enjoy it. At 14, Marcos Baghdatis moved from Cyprus to Paris to take

up a tennis scholarship. In 2003

up a tennis scholarship. In 2003 he won the Australian Junior Title and

became the No. 1 ranked junior in

the world. Last year he reached

the world. Last year he reached and fourth round of the Australian Open.

It was then he discovered

Melbourne's Greek restaurants.

Melbourne's Greek restaurants. This year he's been visiting daily,

signing autographs, chatting to

customers and devouring souvlaki.

Even after the match he came here

and he had souvlaki. I don't know,

must be the garlic sauce! Tonight

he's up against David Nalbandian

he's up against David Nalbandian and while Baghdatis's fans are

while Baghdatis's fans are obviously convinced he can go all the way,

even some commentators like the

ABC's Drew Morphett are reluctant

ABC's Drew Morphett are reluctant to write him off. Getting over Roddick

was amazing and I thought Ivan

Ljubicic would clean him up. His

tennis game is fantastic. He's got

the shots, he's got the courage.

the shots, he's got the courage. He can make a match go five sets and

win it in five. He's got

everything. And if the thrill of

winning isn't enough motivation,

winning isn't enough motivation, the threat of two years compulsory

national service he's so far

national service he's so far managed to avoid might just be enough to

keep Marcos Baghdatis chasing keep Marcos Baghdatis chasing tennis glory.