California:Marcos Baghdatis, already on his way back from the tennis wilderness, cemented his return on Tuesday with a tenacious triumph over world number one Roger Federer.
It was the Cypriot's first victory over Federer in seven meetings - a run that included his four-set loss to Federer in the 2006 Australian Open final.
Baghdatis said his first win over a world number one player was especially satisfying after seeing much of two seasons marred by injury and inconsistency.
"A lot of emotions are going through right now," Baghdatis said after the 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) victory. "It's the best win of my career.
"I lost a lot of matches against those top guys, and, you know, it's a relief to win a match like that. It's a great moment for me."
Baghdatis said the triumph reinforces his belief that he can return to a Grand Slam final - and win it.
"That's why I play," Baghdatis said.
Baghdatis has been fighting his way back up the rankings after climbing from 100 at the end of 2008 to number 42 last season. His 2009 season was highlighted by his third career ATP title in Stockholm last October.
But that title came just a week after he won a challenger event in Tashkent - part of a series of lower level challenger events he played as he tried to work his way back to his best.
This season he has already claimed one title, winning the Sydney International.
But the victory over Federer - after Baghdatis saved three match points - was special.
"I mean, when you hit the serve, and the (return) ball, you know it's going out, it's a great feeling," he said.
"I don't know what went through my mind. A lot of things."
Baghdatis had a brief scare in the third set, calling the trainer on after the ninth game to take a look at his knee.
"I just felt like my knee moved a bit. I wanted to make sure with the physio nothing is wrong. And he told me nothing's serious, so that's all," said Baghdatis, who will continue his campaign for a first Masters 1000 title with a fourth-round match against Tommy Robredo on Wednesday.
Baghdatis agreed with Federer's assessment, that the quality of the match overall wasn't as high as their Australian Open showdown.
"It's true. Today there was a lot of mistakes from both sides, especially in the beginning, and not a lot of rallies - a lot of very good serves.
"I was serving pretty good, he was serving pretty good, so not a lot of rallies.
"It was a different match. Completely different. There were more rallies, more points in Australian Open, tougher physically than today's match."
The difference, Baghdatis thought, was patience.
"You cannot be aggressive the whole match," he said. "You have to choose the points that you have to be aggressive. You have to be smart. You have to change the game."
"I think that's what I did well today. Roger was, I can say, a bit too aggressive. He was missing a lot of balls, and I was more calm than him today." he said.