Baker stuns Monfils in Nice

Wed, 23 May 21:28:00 2012

Unheralded American Brian Baker stunned fourth seed Gael Monfils 6-3 7-6 in the second round of the ATP Nice event.

TENNIS Brian Baker of the United States - 0

The 27-year-old qualifier, who is semi-retired and combines playing with a coaching job at Belmont University, broke serve to win the first set before edging a tie-breaker 11-9 in the second.

"I'm very, very excited. This is the first ATP quarter-final I've ever gotten through to," said Baker. "Coming back and being able to play well so quickly, and beat a guy who has been so good, especially on clay, it's amazing.

"I know that I'm not going to beat these guys standing behind the baseline, trying to out-hit them in a 20-ball rally.

"I know I have to step up and be aggressive, use my drop shot and kick serve, and play to my strengths."

Baker's career-high ranking was 172 nearly eight years ago and he is currently ranked 216th after deciding to return to the professional circuit.

He is a wild-card entrant to next week’s French Open at Roland Garros and he continued his form in winning the Savannah Challenger last month by adding French world number 13 Monfils to the scalp of Russia’s Sergiy Stakhovsky.

His win over Stakhovsky was his first on the ATP Tour since 2005, with his last top-level tournament that year's US Open, where he surprised Gaston Gaudio.

Baker next faces Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin, who came from a set down to beat Australian fifth seed Bernard Tomic 3-6 6-2 7-5.

Top seed John Isner battled past Xavier Malisse 7-6(3) 7-6(5) after two tie-breaks in their second-round match.

Malisse did very little wrong as he remained on terms with Isner, but was outclassed in both breakers as the American claimed a clinical win.

Isner took the opening set 7-3 with a ruthless performance in the breaker after nothing could separate the two players.

The second set was equally tight as neither player faltered on serve, but again Isner had too much for his opponent in the tie-break, taking it 7-5.

The world number 11 will next take on Nikolay Davydenko in the quarter-finals after the Russian dumped out seventh seed Denis Istomin.

Davydenko claimed a 6-4 1-6 6-3 victory with Istomin unable to sustain a high level in the deciding set despite having taken the second comfortably.

Elsewhere, Steve Darcis of Belgium recovered from a set down to beat Filippo Volandri 3-6 6-2 6-4.

Darcis next faces third-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who beat France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(5) 6-4.

The remaining quarter-final will be between France’s second seed Gilles Simon, who beat Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-3 6-3m, and Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci, who earned a 6-4 6-3 win over Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero.


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