Brian Baker ousted from French Open with five-set loss

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 1:47pm
Staff reports

The latest chapter of Brian Baker's comeback story ended — but not without a fight.

The Hillwood High grad and former Belmont assistant tennis coach pushed the world’s 12th ranked player, Frenchman Gilles Simon, to five sets, 4-6, 1-6, 7-6, 6-1, 0-6, before he fell in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday.

After looking gassed in the second set, Baker found another gear in the third game and forced a tiebreak. He dominated the fourth with his signature drop-shot, but Simon shut the door in the fifth. Baker committed 18 of his 64 unforced errors in the final set.

The defeat ended an improbable run for the 27-year-old, who hadn’t played in an ATP event in seven years after five surgeries put his career on hold.

He resurfaced in April when he earned the USTA’s wild card berth for the French Open by winning the Savannah Challenger title. The momentum carried with him to France, where last week he competed in the Open de Nice. He garnered international attention as he upset Gael Monfils, Mikhail Kukushkin and Nikolay Davydenko before falling to Nicolas Almagro in the first ATP final of his career.

Baker opened the French Open on Monday with his first win in a Grand Slam since a U.S. Open victory in 2005. He defeated Belgium’s Xavier Malisse in straight sets to advance to play Simon, the No. 11 seed in the bracket.

Prior to Wednesday’s match, Baker ranked 141st on the ATP circuit and had earned $64,539 this season.