Tsonga clash gives fired-up Baker food for thought


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Jamie Baker saw Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's thrilling French Open quarter-final against Novak Djokovic on television last week and said to the person he was watching it with: "I wonder what I'd actually do if I played one of these guys."

The world No 203 was thinking exactly the same last night after a 7-6, 6-3 victory over his fellow Briton, Oliver Golding, earned a second-round meeting with Tsonga, the world No 5, at the Aegon Championships here this afternoon. It will be the biggest match of the 25-year-old Scot's career.

"I've just got to enjoy the match," Baker said. "I've never played somebody ranked as highly as that in a competitive match. He's an unbelievable athlete. That's obviously what I train for, to get opportunities to play against people like that."

The win over 18-year-old Golding, the reigning US Open boys' champion, will put Baker into the world's top 200 for the first time after a career dogged by illness and injury. "It looked like I was going to get there a lot earlier, but I've had setbacks and the journey has been quite a long and hard one," he said.

Baker and Andy Murray, who faces a tricky opening match today against France's Nicolas Mahut, are the only Britons left in the singles. James Ward, who reached the semi-finals last year, and Liam Broady both went out to big-serving opponents. Ward was beaten 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 by South Africa's Kevin Anderson, while 18-year-old Broady lost 6-1, 6-2 to Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.

Britons fared better at the Aegon Classic at Edgbaston. Tara Moore, 19, defied a gap of 267 places in the rankings to beat the Czech Republic's Iveta Benesova 6-1, 6-2. Anne Keothavong beat Austria's Tamira Paszek 6-2, 7-5, Laura Robson beat the American Grace Min 6-4, 6-1 and Mel South beat Croatia's Mirjana Lucic 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

Wimbledon have announced their first batch of wild cards. Men's wild cards have gone to Tommy Haas and Lleyton Hewitt. Women's wild cards have been awarded to Robson and Heather Watson.