The fabulous Baker boy on centre court

DAVID LONG
Last updated 09:04 08/01/2013

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America's Brian Baker is used to making comebacks.

He is back on the circuit after spending six years injured and last night at the Heineken Open he achieved a superb come-from-behind win to beat Jerzy Janowicz 4-6 7-6 6-4 in two hours 17 minutes.

Janowicz, the fifth seed, is one of the most-hyped men's tennis players because of a stunning Paris Masters last November, where he came through qualifying and made it to the final, beating five top-20 players along the way.

But in the gale-force conditions in Auckland last night Janowicz met his match.

The 22-year-old Pole has a huge serve, regularly sending down bombs at 230 kmh, but Baker, 27, was outstanding with his returns.

While he didn't have the power to serve as quickly as his 2.03-metre rival, he used precision placement to win points.

Janowicz's best tennis came in the first set and he got a break in the fifth game as both players were still trying to cope with the strong cross-winds.

Baker was able to put some pressure on the giant Pole's serve later in the set, although he was unable to get the break back and stop Janowicz going one set up.

Baker went close to taking the second set when Janowicz was down 0-40 at 5-6, but the Pole managed to put in some big serves to hold the game.

However, Baker took the tiebreak 7-5 to send the match late into the night.

Baker shot out to a 5-1 lead in the deciding set and it was 0-40 on Janowicz's serve, when the European started to play again.

However, although Janowicz was able to win that game and save six more match points, Baker eventually got the point he needed to advance to the second round.

Afterwards, Baker said the key to the match was to stay mentally tough.

"I had so many chances in the match to break and get ahead, but I didn't capitalise on them," Baker said.

"I was telling myself it just has to go my way and finally it did.

"I knew if I could keep the matches to longer rallies and keep him at the back I would probably have some success.

"The key is getting his serve back and dealing with some of his unorthodox shots - he has got a lot of feel and can slap balls around from all areas of the court.

"So I felt that if I could keep him deep and get enough balls in, that he would make some errors and I was able to do that for most of the third set until the end."

Meanwhile, late last night in the doubles the New Zealanders Dan King-Turner and Michael Venus lost in the super-tiebreak against the top seeds Colin Fleming from Britain and Brazil's Bruno Soares 2-6 7-6 10-7.

Heineken Open results Qualifying singles final round:

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Greg Jones (USA) bt [1] Victor Hanescu (ROU) 3-6 7-6(4) 7-6(9)

[2] Benjamin Becker (GER) bt Lukas Rosol (CZE) 6-4 6-4 [5]

Igor Sijsling (NED) bt Matwe Middelkoop (NED) 7-6(4) 6-4

Jesse Levine (CAN) bt Frederik Nielsen (DEN) 6-4 6-1

Singles first round

Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) bt David Goffin (BEL) 7-6(5) 6-2

Xavier Malisse (BEL) bt Martin Klizan (SVK) 7-6(4) 3-6 6-3

[WC] Olivier Rochus (BEL) bt Albert Ramos (ESP) 6-2 5-7 6-2

Brian Baker (USA) bt [5] Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 4-6 7-6(5) 6-4

Doubles first round [1] Colin Fleming (GBR)/Bruno Soares (BRA) bt [WC] Dan King-Turner (NZL)/Michael Venus (NZL) 2-6 7-6(6) 10-7

- © Fairfax NZ News

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