Brian Baker is the lowest-ranked player still alive in the men's draw at Wimbledon 2012. Currently ranked 126th in the world (June 25th, 2012 rankings), the American is quickly becoming the poster boy for perseverance through hardship.
After missing six years of his career due to health problems, Baker has emerged as a force in men's tennis.
He will play on Monday in Wimbledon's fourth round, the stage in the ATP/Grand Slam schedule that is considered to be the biggest day of the year in tennis.
The future looks bright for Baker and, while he can never regain the years he lost, something tells me this inspiring player will look at the bright side of things. He's still just 27 years old and hopefully he enjoys three to four years of competing on tour—keeping in mind that tennis is a sport that doesn't really belong to the 30-plus crowd.
What Baker's ranking will be post-Wimbledon is not crystal clear as his exit stage has not yet been determined. He will face Philipp Kohlshreiber in the fourth round in what looks to be a pretty competitive match.
Even if Baker goes out in that round, he will enter the Top 100 on the men's tour for the first time. A fourth-rounder in a Grand Slam earns 180 ranking points and, since Baker also won three matches in the qualifying draw, he'll take away a total of 205 ranking points from Wimbledon this season.
As far as I can see, that should make him about the 75th to 80th ranked player on tour on Monday, July 9.
If Baker were to defeat Kohlschreiber and then lose in the quarters, he should be about the 50th to 55th ranked player next week.
While making the semifinals seems like a bit of a stretch, it can't be called impossible with Baker's heart and determination. That result would see him ranked about 30th to 35th in the world, come July 9.
A ranking of at least 80th or so would mean that Baker would not have to labor in the qualifying draws any longer—at least not for the Grand Slams. He'll still be on the outside looking in when it comes to many Masters Series events, and that is the importance of his fourth-round match.
If he should beat Kohlschreiber, the American will stand a much better chance of getting into the Canadian Masters draw and the Cincinnati Masters without having to toil with qualies.
That's a major step in a comeback bid. Baker can ground himself into the top ATP events for basically the next year with a win on Monday.