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Home > Sports > Tennis > Australian Open 2008 > Reuters > Report

Baghdatis defends himself in race controversy

Simon Cambers | January 18, 2008 11:25 IST

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis defended himself in the face of a race controversy on Friday after the release of a video in which he appeared to chant anti-Turkish slogans at a party.

Australian media showed a video of the Cypriot singing songs with friends, a broadcast which was also posted on the video-sharing web site YouTube.

Baghdatis reacted to the news with a statement in which he defended his actions.

"There has been a lot of coverage of me appearing in a video on," he said.

"In that video from 2007 I was supporting the interest of my country, Cyprus, while protesting against a situation that is not recognised by the United Nations.

"Now I would like to concentrate on the tournament and ask everyone to respect that. I love the Australian Open and want to do well here."

Baghdatis is due to face Australian Lleyton Hewitt [Images] in the third round of the tournament on Saturday.

Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots have shared a troubled history since Cyprus won independence from Britain in 1960.

Turkey invaded northern Cyprus in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup and supports a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state there. The United Nations controls a buffer zone separating the two areas.

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