American Brian Baker's Remarkable Comeback from Injuries
American “feel-good” tennis story of the year so far, Brian Baker, advanced to the second round of the 2012 French Open with a 6-3 7-6(1) 7-6(5) victory over Xavier Malisse. Ironically, Baker hadn’t played in a Grand Slam since the 2005 U.S. Open where he lost to
Xavier Malisse after upsetting then World Number Nine, Gaston Gaudio. That’s a long time off the Tour. Baker played well enough this winter and spring, winning two Futures and one Challenger title, to earn the USTA’s wildcard into the French Open main draw, but he also managed to play his way through qualifying at Nice last week and make a run all the way to the finals. Therefore, what’s most remarkable, is that Baker’s body, which endured five different surgeries during his time off the Tour, is holding up to so many tough matches in such a short time span. Baker had three hip surgeries (on both hips), Tommy John elbow surgery and surgery for a sports hernia.
The three hardest aspects of returning from multiple serious injuries are enduring the dull rehab necessary to get strong again, the patience to endure the emptiness of the time off the Tour after having spent your life on tennis 24/7, as well as actually being able to find your confidence again after so many breaks from both practice and tournament matches. It’s been a long, painful and frustrating road back for Baker and during his time off he enrolled in Belmont University and served as assistant tennis coach. At the age of twenty-seven, Baker is “living the dream” again on the pro tennis Tour. Baker is now ranked 141st (his previous career-best was 172 in 2004) and depending on his French Open results he should move even higher. Baker, who was majoring in business with a finance concentration at Belmont University, has one year to go before he could graduate. Let’s hope the surgically-repaired "bionic Brian" doesn’t return to finish his studies for a few years...