BAKER QUALIFIES FOR AUSTRALIAN OPEN MAIN DRAW

By Philip James

Jamie Baker earned himself a place in the first Grand Slam of the season with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory over American Donald Young in the final qualifying round.

Baker and fellow Scot Andy Murray are Britain’s only entrants into the men’s singles draw as James Ward fell at the final hurdle of qualifying.

Baker’s reward is a first-round tie against Czech player Lukáš Rosol, best known for his shock victory over Rafael Nadal in a five-set thriller at Wimbledon last year.

Rosol is currently ranked 75th in the world, 171 places above Baker who will be aiming to win his first match in a slam main draw at the seventh attempt.

Young, who has been ranked as high 38 and beat veteran James Blake in the previous qualifying round, was always going to pose a stiff challenge for Baker.

However, Young was unable to match the consistency and breakpoint efficiency which had seen him defeat his compatriot Blake.

Baker served excellently throughout the first set, missing only six first serves, which helped him stave off four of the five break points that Young created.

Both players were hitting far more unforced errors than winners but it was Baker’s play on the big points which saw him take the set, converting two of his three breakpoints.

But in the second set Young bounced back, tightening up on the errors while continuing to hit winners and stepping up his tactic of coming to the net.

It was a clear swing in momentum and Baker could not maintain his high first serve percentage and could not stick with his opponent, ranked 189 in the world.

However Young could not maintain the level and Baker dug deep in the third, improving his serve and made Young work harder at the net.

With Young unable to keep the errors down or take any of the three break chances he created, Baker was able to take the third set and the match with just one break of his own.

Ward is ranked just one below Baker but was unable to match the heroics, losing 6-3, 7-5 to German Julian Reister, ranked 296.

Ward, who beat two higher ranked opponents earlier in qualifying, played and served well but could not take the break point he created against a very consistent opponent.

After impressing at Wimbledon in 2012 where he won his first ever grand slam match and pushed Mardy Fish to five sets, Ward will be looking to continue his return from injury and push on in 2013.

No Replies to "BAKER QUALIFIES FOR AUSTRALIAN OPEN MAIN DRAW"