Baker rolls, advances to third round at Wimbledon as draw opens up

Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 6:26pm
Staff reports

Nashville’s Brian Baker breezed to an easy victory in his second round match at Wimbledon on Thursday.

Baker’s 6-0, 6-2, 6-4 romp against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen moved him into the third round of the All-England tournament, his best showing ever in a Grand Slam event. He reached the second round of the 2005 U.S. Open and last month’s French Open.

His next scheduled match is Saturday against Benoit Paire of France.

Baker’s prospects for a deep run in the tournament improved somewhat when No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain lost. The two were in the same quarter of the draw.

With a win over Paire, Baker’s round-of-16 foe figured to be Nadal, the 2010 champion and last year’s runner-up. However, unseeded Czech player Lukas Rosol stunned Nadal in a five-set match later Thursday.

Now the winner between Baker and Paire match meets either Rosol or Phillip Kohlschreiber on Monday.

Having recently overcome a six-year hiatus from the pro tour due to multiple injuries and surgeries, Baker has rolled to two straight-set wins this week. He made the field with three qualifying victories last week.

Against Nieminen, the 27-year-old needed just an hour and 20 minutes to end a match in which he committed just eight unforced errors and lost just 11 points in the first set.

Baker’s success likely will elevate him into the top 100 of the ATP rankings, which would guarantee a berth into the main draw of the U.S. Open. He began the week ranked No. 126.

“I don’t know why I’ve been able to just come back and have so much success,” Baker said according to a tennis blog of the New York Times after the match. “It’s tough out here. Not a lot of people do this. If they could, it wouldn’t be as prestigious.

“It’s great to do it here at Wimbledon, one of the pinnacles of tennis in the world.”

Earlier this week, Baker reflected on his recent success.

“I’d be lying if I sat here and said that I expected all this to happen right now when I was going through all those surgeries,” Baker told USA Today. “But I never gave up the hope that I’d be able to come back.

“I was always confident in my abilities in that if I felt that I was ever able to stay healthy that I’d have success.”