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Baker zooms into second round of Wimbledon qualifying

Brian Baker
by Helen Gilbert at Roehampton
Monday 18 June 2012

Brian Baker generated headlines in Paris a few weeks ago when his comeback was hailed by Justin Gimelstob as the greatest in the sport of tennis.
The American endured a six year absence from the tour when his career was derailed by a string of injuries but five major operations later he is back and looking decisive.

The 27-year-old, who enjoyed a seven match winning streak on the red stuff in Nice and pushed 11th seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon to five sets in the French Open, produced an almost flawless game in his first round qualifying meeting with Radu Albot pocketing a 6-2, 6-3 victory.

“After the French Open I took a week off and was definitely feeling the effect of all the matches I had played,” Baker told Wimbledon.com this evening.

“At Queen’s I lost first round qualies and didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing but today was a lot better, I felt like I served a lot better and I returned well so I was pleased with my performance.

“It’s good to be back out here. I think the last time I played here was 2005 and that was a first game, I tore my MCL and had to retire. It feels great just to be back playing tennis again but Wimbledon is a special event and I’m hoping I can continue the momentum that I’ve had the last couple of months and qualify and maybe do some damage in the main draw.”

 Earlier in the day, overcast skies and blustery conditions did little to hinder Rajeev Ram who became the first male player to proceed through to the second round of qualifying.

The eighth seeded American, who is ranked 119 in the world, showed no mercy as he steamrollered his way to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Argentine Maximo Gonzalez with a convincing serve volley game.

Despite precautionary strapping to both calves, Ram was gliding around the court with relative ease and Gonzalez, who at 189 is ranked 70 spots below Ram, could only watch as winner after winner whistled past.

The score may have been satisfying, but Ram revealed after the contest that his draw against Gonzalez was not his idea of an ideal first round encounter.

“I was playing an opponent who has been as high as 60 in the world, it’s not ideally what you want in a first round match but I came out and executed really well,” he told Wimbledon.com

“I think I played very well and the conditions felt pretty calm compared to how it has been.”

The American added that the strapping around his calves was merely there for support. “I’ve had trouble with both calves in the past and it’s just protection. My body is feeling really good at the moment.”

Another Argentine to fall at the hands of a seed was Agustin Velotti who was sent packing 6-1, 6-1 by France’s Florent Serra, (No. 22 ). Over on Court 8 Ryan Sweeting, seed No.21, was made to work by fellow American Alex Kuzetsnov, who at 211 is world ranked 77 places below him. Despite trailing by one set, Sweeting regrouped to claw his way back into the match and steal a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory.

Top seed Jurgen Zopp carved out a second round place when he dispatched Spain’s Guillermo Olaso 6-4, 6-4, while Simone Bolelli (No.9), Michael Russell (No.4), Daniel Brands (No.2), and Michael Berrer (No.7) also proved victorious in their opening round matches.  

But the Wimbledon dreams of former 2005 US Open semi-finalist Robby Ginepri were crushed byUkraine’s Sergei Bubka who came from one set down to beat the American 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. 

Read our live text commentary of the first day of qualifying

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