Baker's makes return to professional tennis next week

Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 4:23pm
Staff reports

The latest Brian Baker comeback begins on Monday.

The Nashville native and former Belmont assistant tennis coach returns to the ATP World Tour with the BB&T Atlanta Open, which runs through July 28.

Baker hasn’t played since Jan. 15 when he tore his lateral meniscus in the second round of the Australian Open. The 28-year-old, who has undergone six surgeries in his injury riddled career, returns to the court ranked 56th in the ATP rankings.

“We are thrilled to be Brian Baker’s first tournament back since his Australian Open injury,” tournament director Bob Bryant said. “Brian has persevered for one of the greatest comebacks in professional sports and the BB&T Atlanta Open is glad to assist him in the next chapter of his career by granting a wild card into our main draw.”

Baker, who turned pro after graduating from Hillwood High in 2003, stormed into the national spotlight last summer.

He had been away from the tour for six years due to surgeries on his hip, elbow and sports hernia. After three years as an assistant coach at Belmont, he rejoined the ATP tour in 2011. Last year he climbed the world rankings and enjoyed an improbable run, winning a match at the French Open and reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon.

Then in January, at the Australian Open in a match against fellow American Sam Querry, he felt something pop in his knee and had surgery four days later. He asked the ATP for a protective ranking, which is eligible to players who are physically injured and don’t compete in a tournament for at least six months.

Baker also was a wild card entry in the Atlanta Open (a hard-court tournament) last year. He was eliminated in the first round by Russian Igor Kunitsyn.