Almagro Ends Baker Run to Win Nice Open

by John on May 26, 2012

Defending champion Nicolas Almagro ended the fairytale run of Brian Baker Saturday afternoon, defeating the unheralded American qualifier 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the Nice Open. Almagro, seeded third and currently ranked No, 14, improved to 12-5 in ATP Tour finals, while winning his second title of the year. The Spaniard won at Sao Paulo in February. “I played my best tennis in two years here,” Almagro said. “I am very happy with my serve and my forehand. I moved on the court very, very well. Today, was one of those matches you want to keep in your mind for the rest of the season, because I couldn’t have played much better.” The 216th-ranked Baker had reeled off 15 victories in a row, dating back to last month’s first-round qualifying win at the Savannah Challenger. He went on to win in Savannah to earn a wild card for the French Open, and will make his main-draw debut in Paris next week. Baker had defeated No. 13-ranked Gael Monfils and former world No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko en route to today’s final. The 27-year-old American was sidelined for nearly six years after five surgeries (three hip, one elbow, one sports hernia) before returning to competitive tennis in July 2011 as an unranked entrant at a Futures event. Almagro rode a strong serve, hitting 11 aces and winning 88 percent of the points on his first serve and 74 percent overall. The Spaniard hit 29 winners and committed just 10 unforced errors. It was an impressive display of clay-court prowess by the 26-year-old Spaniard. Baker, perhaps a bit spent from a week in which three of his four main-draw wins were from a set down, had 20 winners and 25 unforced errors. “It was a great week,” Baker said. “Every time you go onto court you want to win. I am a competitor, I hate losing. But, when you look at the week as a whole, it has been an unbelievable week. I hoped to qualify at the start of the week and win a match or two, before going to Roland Garros. I obviously did much better. I think even in the qualifying, I felt as if I was playing pretty well. I won my three matches easily and knew I was playing good tennis.”

 

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