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Brian Baker - third round

Saturday 30 June 2012

J. BAKER/B. Paire

6‑4, 4‑6, 6‑1, 6‑3

Q. Got to be pretty happy, but also pretty tough to play a guy who is so unbelievably up and down and kind of whacky?

BRIAN BAKER: Yeah, I mean, he was a little over there. You could tell that some games it looked like he would take off a little bit, but then he would come up and slap a couple winners, too.

It is difficult to play a guy like that, but I think it was more difficult, just have the conditions today. It was really blustery out there. Never felt like the wind was even in the same direction every game, so I think we were both struggling a little bit with the wind.

Made it tougher to serve, serve big. Even on the returns it was moving a lot. I think that made a few more unforced errors today.

Q. With all you've been through, does it make it easier for you to deal with distractions like wind?

BRIAN BAKER: I think a little bit. I think it's easier to handle some of the ups and downs. Even older too. Even though I haven't had the experience over the last five or six years because I haven't played, just being a little older, a little more mature. I mean, I know things aren't going to go my way the whole match. You have to be able to handle some adversity.

Definitely happened today. It's never easy closing a match out, and I was fortunate the last volley went in.

Q. Is it difficult playing someone so temperamental?

BRIAN BAKER: Like I say, a little bit. But at the same time I'm focused on my game and focused on the next point, how I want to play. So the other stuff I'm not really paying attention too much.

It can be a little difficult when you feel like he's not giving you much rhythm, he's missing, then slap a winner, then miss a couple. But I try not to put too much attention to that.

Q. When you look at guys on the tour in general ‑ and not necessarily just talking about them that do get moods and upsets about little things ‑ do you, because of your experiences, have a different view of how they are?

BRIAN BAKER: Not really. I haven't played enough of 'em recently to really get, I guess, an opinion on that stuff.

But, like I said, maybe the momentum of the match or the tempo changes a little bit. But I really try to focus on what I can control. I can't control how they play or how they're feeling out there. I just try to prepare myself to be successful.

I was able to do that today.

Q. You've come from playing challengers to the now the second week of a major. Are you still having any 'pinch me' moments?

BRIAN BAKER: I will. 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 mean, 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 kind of what's going on. But I'm still trying to stay focused on the task at hand and not get too wrapped around.

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 to every match go in there hungry and try to win the next one instead of, I'm in the Round of 16 of Wimbledon; this is awesome.

Q. What have you heard from other Americans, all playing today?

BRIAN BAKER: The only one that I've had interactions with so far is Querrey who is up in the locker room. He's getting ready for his match, stretching. We were kind of joking around like we normally do. We talk.

He's been supportive. He's been great.

Q. There is the chance the four of you will be in the next round. Can you give your thoughts on the four of you as a group and maybe your observations of each one's unusual story to be at this stage?

BRIAN BAKER: What do you mean by 'my thoughts on the group'?

Q. What you have in common and what is different about each of you?

BRIAN BAKER: I mean, obviously they have three matches to go, and they all have three tough matches. I don't know. I guess Fish is favored. The other two might not be favored.

Q. In terms of your individual games and your personalities.

BRIAN BAKER: Okay. Well, that's kind of tough. How much time do we have (smiling)?

Well, I mean, I know that Mardy, Andy, Sam, I've probably seen Sam a lot more recently because we've played some of the same tournaments. We got to hang out at Nice, at the French Open, Queen's, and now here.

They all three probably have bigger serves than me. They get a few more free points. I know Mardy and I lean on our backhands a lot to win points and to return.

I mean, that's a tough question.

Then Andy, I guess he's been here before. He's done the best at Wimbledon so far, so maybe he can look back on past success and give him confidence.

I don't think we're that similar that much in our games. Maybe Mardy and I from the back are similar. But we win points a different way.

Q. You were in the hunt for a wild card here; ended up playing in the qualifiers. In retrospect, was that a good thing?

BRIAN BAKER: Yeah. Looking at it now it's a good thing. I don't know if you look at it first‑round quallies when you're walking on the court that it's the best thing.

I wasn't that disappointed that I didn't get one. I needed the match practice on the courts. My only grass court match was at Queen's quallies and I lost. Didn't feel I was comfortable on the stuff.

Q. Seven years since you've been on a grass court before Queen's?

BRIAN BAKER: There's actually two grass courts at the club where I grew up at back in Nashville. I think I played once like hit‑and‑giggle tennis on that. Played kind of a pro‑am doubles tournament up in the Hamptons with a buddy from Nashville on grass.

But those courts are nothing compared to these. They're a lot softer. It had been seven years since I played on a similar‑style grass court.

Q. At what point did you actually say to yourself that you could play second‑week Grand Slam‑level tennis?

BRIAN BAKER: Right now (laughter).

Nice. I've been saying all along that Nice was huge for my confidence. Not just getting to the finals, but having quality wins over good players. I know it's a totally different surface, but it just kind of validates how well I was playing at that time.

Once I got those victories, I don't know if I'm actually playing better tennis now, but during the key moments of the match, which basically determines a lot of the matches, I'm confident I don't have to step outside my comfort zone, that my game is good enough.

Q. I saw a tweet of yours that your family had to change your travel plans.

BRIAN BAKER: Yeah, no, I think they had to change it twice. They weren't that confident in my starting out (smiling).

No, I was just excited that they were able to come back over. They came over for the French, so it's nice to see my dad was able to take off work again and come back over. Makes it a lot more special to be able to share it with family and girlfriend than it is if you're just doing it on your own.

Q. How long are they here for?

BRIAN BAKER: I'm not even sure when they booked it for. You'll have to ask them. I know they booked it for like past my next match. At least one more match they think I can win.

Q. If this would be the best achievement of the comeback and the best moment of the comeback so far, what would have been the worst moment?

BRIAN BAKER: Since the comeback?

Q. In general, of all you went through.

BRIAN BAKER: I've gotten that asked a lot. It's hard to pinpoint the one exact time. I think I said that before I had the elbow surgery, because I knew I would be out for so long and I wasn't going to keep on having surgeries to prolong my career. That was probably one of the more difficult ones.

I think anytime you have surgery, sitting in the operating room, sitting in rehab, it's not going perfectly to plan. For me I kept on having surgeries. At one point you're like, Why is my body not cooperating? Am I ever going to get out to play? I think that happened around the same time as the elbow surgery.

Q. Did you have an idea of what else you would do?

BRIAN BAKER: I went back to school. I was studying business ‑ finance in particular. I don't know if that was going to be my calling, but it was something I was interested in.

Also I was coaching tennis. I think college coaching in the right kind of position that would interest me as well.

Q. You have to look out for your own prize money now.

BRIAN BAKER: I'll be able to know what they're telling me about my money.

Q. What are your thoughts on playing Kohlschreiber?

BRIAN BAKER: I've never actually ‑‑ I think I played him in doubles a long time ago, maybe like 2004, 2005. We can pretty much throw that out. I never really practiced with him or played him in singles. It will be a new match, I think, for both of us.

I'll try to get together with some people that know how he plays and try to get a game plan together. I don't know what he's ranked, but he's obviously top 25 or 30. So he's a great player. So I'm sure I'll probably be the underdog again going into the match, which is fine for me.

I'm kind of happy being the hunter going in there. I know I'll have to play my best match to win because he's a great player.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the first tournament when you came back, the futures event in Pittsburgh.

BRIAN BAKER: What do you want to know about it?

Q. Is it right you actually turned up and said you wanted to play it?

BRIAN BAKER: Unfortunately, when you have zero points you kind of are at the luck of the drawing, if you get in quallies even. At first cut I was not in quallies, and so I had to actually get a wild card from the USTA to even play quallies.

So I got the call pretty late. I don't know if someone pulled out or not, but I got a call I think on Thursday evening. I was actually on the golf course. They were like, Okay, do you want to? I was like, Sure. I left the next morning and drove up there because it was tough to get a flight.

Signed up for quallies and started my next round the next day. I was able to win three qually matches and then the five main‑draw matches without losing a set.

Q. If you would have been told then that you would be in the world's top hundred by then, what would you have said?

BRIAN BAKER: Wow, how would I have done that? What tournaments did I do well at?

Like I said, I've always been confident in my game. I always knew I was a good player. It was just whether the body would cooperate and whether I could get more than even six, eight, twelve months healthy and able to play.

Because, I mean, coming back of course I wasn't just playing awesome tennis and winning every tournament. I had some lumps down the road. I'm just so happy that I have been able to play this year a full schedule and now I'm finally kind of finding my stride and doing well.

Q. Novak said there's 128 players in the draw and everybody is hungry. Is that how you feel? How do you feel about it?

BRIAN BAKER: Yeah, right. I think you have to go on the court each time and think that you're going to win or you shouldn't even go out there. I know the top three and top four especially, they've kind of been dominating the Grand Slams as far as like who's winning the Grand Slams.

But I don't look at the draw. Like when Nadal lost I knew he was in my half, but it's not something that I was thinking about when he lost, Oh, now I can go even further in the tournament.

Every time I have a match, I'm always ranked lower and always probably the underdog.

It is nice that maybe you can say it's a little more open. But, you know, I don't pay that much attention to that. I just go onto the court, whoever I'm playing, try to have a game plan, be confident, try to play my best tennis.

Q. Do you remember a time when you were off watching a Wimbledon final thinking it would be really nice if you could get out there and play on that Centre Court one day?

BRIAN BAKER: No, I think it's great when you can play on any of the biggest courts at each of the Grand Slams. I've played at Louis Armstrong at the Open; I've played now Chatrier at the French; haven't played the Australian yet.

I think it's awesome anytime you can go out and play on one of those courts just because not that many people in the world get to do that.

If I ever get a chance to play on it, it would be great. I don't know when I was watching the tennis at that time. I guess I was probably in the middle of recovering from one or another surgery. I don't know if I was thinking, I'm going to be playing right there.

Ever since a child, I've always dreamed it would be great to play on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

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