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American Man Starts a Late Run in France

Brian Baker Makes a Come Back in time for Paris

May 24, 2012 | 07:57 PM

With Fish sitting on the sidelines, Isner getting quickly sidelined in his 3 events since returning to red clay after Monte Carlo, and Harrison and Roddick being bludgeoned in Germany by anybody and everybody, The US media needs a story for the start of the French Open this weekend.

In Brian Barker, they have the best story they could have hoped for short of a talented new teenager: 10 years ago Brian was a talented new teenager - one who had wins over juniors named Joker, Tsonga and others - before injuries took him down and out.

First a wrist, then an MCL tear (while playing Joker), then several hip surgeries and Tommy John surgery. All before he was 24. By then he was attending Belmont University in his home town of Nashville, getting a degree and helping out with the women's tennis team.

Why did he return to the game he last tried to come back to in 2007?

I felt like I had some unfinished business. My body was the main factor was why I took off. I always wanted to come back but my body wouldn't allow me to. I started to feel a little bit better last summer, so I told myself to give it a go and see how far I can take it. I've had some ups and downs since coming back, but right now, it probably feels better than it has in a long time.

His start was successful success last July (he won a Challenger in Pittsburgh). Today, after winning a wild card into Paris from the USTA (he won 8 matches in a row to take a Challenger in Savannah this month), he's reached the semis of his first event in Europe in 6 years in Nice, France, beating Stakhovsky (7-5 in the 3rd after losing the first set), Monfils 6-3, 7-6 (9) and Kukushkin (7-6 in the 3rd after losing the first).

If he beats Davydenko tomorrow to reach the final, he'll move from #216 to the top 150. And were he to win the title there over Almagro or Simon, he'll move up another 30 places.

It's unlikely that a run like this, fueled with clutch play, will last long once Paris begins.

Tomorrow the draw will be made in Paris, and Brian can see what's next. But his best opportunity is, no doubt, before him in Nice.

Davydenko has already lost in 2012 to players ranked 210 and 185.

Why not to #216? It would be a nice birthday present for Brian, who turns 27 tomorrow.


American men, ATP, 5.24.12

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