Brian Baker has gone from playing “hit-and-giggle” grass-court tennis with friends to amazing his family and the wider sporting world by reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon.
The 27-year-old was unranked just a year ago, a once-leading junior whose hopes of a career in the game had been seemingly ruined by a succession of injuries.
But, having undergone a succession of operations, Baker gave it one last shot, and yesterday he beat France’s Benoit Paire 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 to reach the fourth round of the world’s most famous grand slam event. Fortunately his family have already extended their stay in London to include tomorrow, when he will face 27th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber for a place in the quarter-finals.
Asked if he still has to pinch himself, Baker said: “I’m sure I will. It’s been unreal. When I’m on the court I know I definitely have nerves. Closing out the match you definitely know what’s on the table, what you can accomplish.
“I missed a few shots at the end that I probably wouldn’t miss if it was the quarters of a Challenger and not trying to get to the round of 16 at Wimbledon.
“It is crazy. But I’m still trying to stay focused on the task at hand and not get too wrapped up in it.
“Because once you do that, I think it’s tough to be able to play your best tennis once you’re happy that you’ve been there.
“So I’m trying every match to go in there hungry and try to win the next one instead of thinking, ‘I’m in the round of 16 of Wimbledon, this is awesome’.”