Brian Baker: Now it’s about the game
Originally published on: 10/07/12 00:00
Having rebuilt his career after undergoing five surgeries in the space of six years, Baker has had an astonishing last few months, beating world No.13 Gael Monfils en route to his first ATP final in Nice, winning his first match in the main draw of the French Open and coming through qualifying to reach the last sixteen at Wimbledon.
Naturally, Baker has rocketed up the rankings and now stands at No.76, but the former junior world No.2 has no plans to stop there.
"I'm looking forward to doing bigger and better things," said the 27-year-old Nashville native.
"I don't think sitting a year ago from now playing the futures that I thought I would have transitioned this fast. So that's been a lot of fun to be able to play some of your best tennis on the biggest stage.”
As recently as January, Baker was competing in the tier below challenger level and ranked at No.456 in the world. It was only last summer that he launched his comeback to the tour after over half a decade of absence. Before his break, Baker had played in each of the junior Grand Slams, won the 2002 Orange Bowl and made the boys final at the French Open, where he lost to Stanislas Wawrinka. However, the 6’3” right-hander acknowledges that he is performing at his best level yet, despite the setbacks, and puts that down to renewed confidence.
"My game is better than it was when I was playing before. I don't know if I have an exact formula as to why that is. I think a lot of it is confidence. When you're confident I think you believe in yourself, and during the crucial moments you play your best tennis," he said.
"Tennis, like any other sport, a ton of that's confidence. A lot of times you might not be hitting the ball that much better, but if you're confident, I think your opponent senses it, you sense it, you play the bigger points better."
Now, Baker is looking forward to putting his health troubles behind him.
"Basically since I've been coming back it's been about the health,” he admitted. “Now it's about the game."