Brian Baker's amazing comeback cooks up first SW19 win


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The Independent Online

To the casual observer on court 16 it was just an ordinary match between two little-known players with rankings hovering around the 100-mark, America's Brian Baker and Portugal's Rui Machedo. To Baker, however, it was a hugely significant step back after a six-year ordeal with injuries that threatened to end a career that had barely begun.

As a junior Baker was ranked No.2 in the world and reached the final of the French Open junior championship. Then in 2005, at the age of 20, he required the first of what would be five operations in four years involving both hips, elbow and a hernia. It was a long slog back, so long the Nashville resident was still playing in the Middle Tennessee Tennis League with his father as recently as last summer while combining a business degree with coaching at a local university.

Feeling fitter than for years he launched a comeback which went so well he earned a wildcard into the French Open. There he won his first Grand Slam match since 2005 against Xavier Malisse. He followed that by winning through Wimbledon qualifying to make his full debut here.

Machedo, though ranked 30 places above Baker at 96, proved an ideal opponent. He was busy but more of a clay-court player and once Baker got on top the Portuguese seemed to have neither the experience or heart to make a contest of it. Baker won 7-6, 6-4, 6-0 and said: "I always believed if I was ever able to stay healthy I would have success. But I never imagined at this stage I would be playing in the French Open and Wimbledon and winning matches. Being here is weird, but also a pretty cool feeling."