Sport

US player Brian Baker living the dream with Grand Slam plans

Brian Baker of USA plays a backhand during his first round match against Jerzy Janowicz of Poland during day one of the Heineken Open at ASB Tennis Centre on January 7, 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand.
Brian Baker of USA plays a backhand during his first round match against Jerzy Janowicz of Poland during day one of the Heineken Open at ASB Tennis Centre on January 7, 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand. Hannah Johnston / Getty Images

ON the eve of his first Australian Open, no one appreciates the opportunity to play in a Grand Slam more than Brian Baker.

The American had a great junior career, beating the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marcos Baghdatis on his way to the 2003 junior French Open final where he was beaten by Stanislas Wawrinka.

His first victory in a Grand Slam came at the 2005 US Open where he upset ninth seed Gaston Gaudio, but within months it seemed his career may have been over.

"At the end of '05 my left hip was bothering me at the US Open, and after that I had my first left hip surgery," the 27-year-old said.

"That was the start of a big string of injuries which kept me out for the better part of six years. I ended up having two left hip surgeries, a right hip surgery, a sports hernia surgery and right elbow surgery, so it was a string of bad luck."

That seems like an understatement.

Baker effectively gave the game away, going back to university to study business before getting into tennis coaching.

He began playing again in the middle of 2011, conscious not to put too much strain on his body, and within a few months had risen to No. 760 in the world.

If the fact he was back playing was a fairytale, what came next was the stuff of dreams.

Last year at Wimbledon, not only did he make it through qualifying, he provided the feelgood story of the tournament by making it to the fourth round where he was beaten by 18th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber.

He ended 2012 ranked No.61 in the world after reaching a career-high ranking of 52 in October, describing the achievement as "pretty remarkable".

Asked why he didn't give it away during his dark times, Baker said it was a matter of having unfinished business.

"I still remained hopeful, and if I could I wanted to go back - it's as simple as that," he said.

"I love tennis. That's what I've done for most of my life, so not being able to play for those years was really tough."

Now that he has tasted success, he wants more, starting with his first appearance at Melbourne Park.

"Once you have success you keep on wanting to do better," he said.

"I'd like to get into the top 50 and hopefully make another run in a Grand Slam like I did last year at Wimbledon.

"Just keep on moving up, and also the main goal every year is to keep looking after the body and make sure I stay healthy."

Topics:  australian open, grand slam, tennis, usa



Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Women’s title race a nail-biter

Tyler Wright of Australia winning her quarterfinal heat at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro in Western Australia on April 15.

Women's WSL title race hotting up a carnival moves to Brazil

Awards honour accessibility

AWARDS LAUNCHED: Tweed Shire Inclusion Awards patron Bill Chaffey, councillors Carolyn Byrne and Warren Polglase, Wendy Gilbert, Angela Maxwell, Beverly Kelso, Chris Walters, Suzi Hudson and Daily Grind assistant manager Thomas Steinbaher.

Awards encourage inclusion across the Tweed

V8 racer needs your support

ZOOM ZOOM: Bathurst is on the cards for Brendan Strong if he can rally support from businesses in the area.

Tweed V8 racer has his sights set on Bathurst

Latest deals and offers


Spectacular Crash as Corvette Flips at Drag Races

Corvette flips at 350kmh.

Driver walks away from 350kmh crash in Texas.

Star Wars: Force Awakens told in Emojis

Disney has released an emoji version of The Force Awakens.

To commemorate Star Wars Day, Disney releases emoji version of film on a smart...

NYPD join dance challenge

New York Police respond to NZ dance challenge.

New York's finest accept Kiwi dance challenge.

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog

VIDEO: Art Deco fan pays $835,000 for Imperial Hotel

No Caption

Iconic "Impy" sold at a bargan price to bidder who loves Art Deco.

RBA warns of future apartment oversupply

Toowoomba: Crest Apartments and Burke & Wills, Ruthven Street ( view from Neil Street) Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle

RBA says oversupply of apartments poses risk to household finances