American Cinderella Story
America…Fuck Yeah! There hasn’t been much to root for in the men’s brackets as an American Tennis fan for over a decade. In the 70’s and 80’s, America was represented at the highest level with names like Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Conners, John McEnroe, and Stan Smith winning championship after championship.
As McEnroe’s and Conners’ careers came to an end towards the waning years of the 80’s, some new American blood took center stage. Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras took the Tennis world by storm and seemed to be competing in the semifinals or finals of every major tournament. There was a point from 1992-2000, that either Agassi or Sampras won every Wimbledon except one. It was safe to say that America was on top of the Tennis world.
Since Sampras’ 2000 Wimbledon victory, no American male has won what is considered the most prestigious of all the tennis majors. I appreciate the Williams sisters keeping America on the map during these dark years but there is no denying that the lack of a dominant American male tennis player for over a decade has placed an unwanted stigma on our nations reputation. It’s not like America has been too far off either. Andy Roddick was supposed to be our American savior once Sampras and Agassi retired, but with only one Major victory ever, US Open 2003, Andy has been considered a little bit of a disappointment. Andy did make the finals of the 2009 Wimbledon, where he ended up losing to Roger Federer in the longest Wimbledon match (in games) in the history of the tournament.
With new American hopefuls Mardy Fish and John Isner, Roddick came into this 2012 Wimbledon as the third highest ranked American. Isner has been eliminated and Mardy and Andy are both facing difficult, but winnable, third round matches today. Even with Andy and Mardy still alive, America now has their eyes and hearts set on another American name, Brian Baker. This 27-year-old unknown has quite a fairy tale story behind his career. Baker lost six years of his career to an array of injuries that left him needing five different operations on a hernia, both of his hips and his right elbow. I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure your right elbow is important, especially when you are a right-handed tennis player.
Before Wimbledon 2012, Baker had never made it past the 2nd round in any major and the highest world ranking he ever had was 123rd. I personally had never heard of this guy until this Wimbledon and now I won’t miss a game of his. After today’s victory against France’s Benoit Paire in the third round, Baker has quickly become the American Cinderella story we have all longed for now for over a decade. Baker didn’t only just win his third round matchup against the favored Paire, he pretty much dominated it. Even better for Baker is the fact that his improbable 4th round matchup should have been against one of the Wimbledon favorites, Rafael Nadal. This is the one instance where I appreciate the Sports Debaters current curse because of Nadal’s loss, Baker will now face off with the dangerous but beatable 27th ranked, Philipp Kohlschreiber. It’s great to see that true American spirit that shows hard work and determination can lead to you overcoming any obstacle that comes your way. I hope I’m not the only one who will be tuned in for this matchup because Brian Baker is turning into an amazing story.