Brian Baker, Tommy Haas and the Year of the Comeback in Men's Tennis
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While the ATP World Tour hasn't seen any major breakthroughs amid its up-and-coming talent, there has been some significant news amid the rankings, particularly from veteran players getting close to their career highs—or reaching new ones—after down years.
One of the biggest stories in recent tennis memory has been the rise of American Brian Baker. The 27-year-old had a very successful career in the juniors, finishing as runner-up in the 2003 Roland Garros event. It then looked like he was going to have a relatively smooth transition to the pros as he cracked the top 200 shortly thereafter.
Then the injuries came—and then some.
But after getting to a point where his body was somewhat ready to handle the rigors of the tour again, Baker has proved eager to make up for lost time, and as this week's rankings show, he's on the doorstep of the top 50.
Veteran Tommy Haas, long one of the best ball-strikers on the Tour, is no stranger to injuries either, having had ankle surgeries in the past. From July 2010 to June 2012, Haas spent all that time out of the top 100 due to physical ailments, even losing his ranking at one point.
However, Haas showed he was determined to get back near the top by making a major statement before Wimbledon, when he defeated Roger Federer in the finals of the grass-court event in Halle, Germany. And since that point, he has risen to become a solid top-25 player again.
Another player that has worked his way back into the top 25 is American Sam Querrey. After coming off a career-best year in 2010 that saw him take home four singles titles, Querrey suffered a series of injuries that derailed his progress.
But it appears that he is definitely back on track. It started with a semifinal run at the Wimbledon warmup event in London. Querrey then demonstrated why he's always a threat on the hard courts with another solid summer season, his favorite time of the year, which saw him capture his seventh career singles title in Los Angeles. With few points to defend at the beginning of 2013, a stint in the top 10—which seemed a sure thing a couple of years ago—could become a reality.
Frenchman Jeremy Chardy is another player whose efforts in 2012 should be noted. After a brilliant junior career, Chardy quickly made inroads on the pro game and won his first singles title—and only one to date—in 2009. It looked like he would become the latest French player to join the upper tier of the rankings, but he started off the next year poorly and by 2011 was competing on the Challenger level.
2012, though, has been a different story and he's even notched a win against world No. 3 Andy Murray. Chardy, once on a career fast track, just hit an all-time high in the rankings a few weeks ago is poised to ascend even further.
A higher ranking, along with more finals and titles, is the best way of making sure the comeback is complete.
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