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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Marcos Baghdatis's U.S. Open curse struck again Tuesday when the Cypriot suffered his third first-round defeat in five visits, losing to seasoned Frenchman Arnaud Clement in a five-set thriller.
The 16th-seeded Baghdatis led by two sets to one and then by 3-1 in the fifth set but eventually went down 6-3 2-6 1-6 6-4 7-5 to the 32-year-old Clement, who clinched his first win since Wimbledon.
In the battle of the two former Australian Open finalists, Baghdatis recovered from a poor start to storm through the second and third sets for the loss of just three games.
But Clement snatched the fourth and then came from 3-1 down to seal victory and a meeting with either American Robby Ginepri or Eduardo Schwank of Argentina.
Baghdatis went into the tournament riding confidence after an encouraging lead-up to the U.S. Open, winning the title in Washington and reaching the semi-finals in Cincinnati.
But he had never made it past the second round in four previous trips to New York and began nervously, with Clement rushing the net to good effect.
The two players both produced some outstanding shot-making but Baghdatis found his feet in the third set to move ahead.
But Clement snatched the fourth set and then came from 3-1 down in the decider, finally clinching victory by breaking Baghdatis in the 12th game when he pulled a forehand wide.
Editing by Frank Pingue