>> Friday, May 25, 2012
It's American tennis in Paris, nay Nice, as a Cinderella-like story is evolving at the 2012 Open de Nice Côte d’Azur tennis tournament in Nice, France. For the first time this year, an American male tennis player has reached the finals of a clay court event not held in the United States. And no, his name is not John Isner, nor Mardy Fish, nor Andy Roddick. In fact, he's not even ranked in the top 100. But for this week, he's playing as if he is. Brian Baker of Nashville, Tennessee has been moving through the draw, beating players ranked way higher than him, and now, he is in the finals against Spanish clay court specialist Nicolas Almagro.
Watch the finals of the 2012 Open de Nice Côte d’Azur tennis tournament in Nice, France through live video streaming here between defending champion and no. 3-seed Nicolas Almagro vs world no. 216 qualifier Brian Baker. The winner will take home €71,900 in prize money and 250 ranking points. The runner will win €37,860 in prize money and 150 ranking points.
Baker was using this Nice tennis tournament as a tune-up for his main draw appearance in the 2012 French Open. The 27-year old American won the wildcard reserved for American players in the singles main draw at Roland-Garros by winning several playoffs matches. He is in Nice to get matches in his belt before the second Grand Slam of the year and he had to win three qualifying matches to get into the main draw. Then, the unthinkable happened. Baker defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky 67(2) 64 75 in the first round before scoring his first top 15 win by upsetting world no. 13 Gael Monfils 63 76(9) in the second round.
He followed this up with a come from behind victory over Mikhail Kukushkin 46 63 76(4) in the quarterfinals, and in his last match, he saved match point to beat former top 10 player Nikolay Davydenko 67 64 62. By virtue of reaching the final, Baker will jump to a career high ranking of no. 140, and if he wins the title, he will go higher to become world no. 113. He is assured of more than doubling his prize money for the year even with a loss in the finals. Baker is the second American this year to reach an ATP final after Isner who lost in the Indian Wells and Houston finals.
Baker's opponent in the final will be 26-year old Almagro who is ranked no. 14 in the world and who has already won a title in clay at Sao Paulo earlier this year. Almagro has a 24-6 record in clay for this season and will be looking to capture his 12th ATP title. He won this tournament last year and he reached the finals without dropping a set. He dominated the no. 2-seed, Gilles Simon, in the semifinals with a 61 63 victory. He will be playing in his 17th ATP final, and he will clearly be the favorite against Baker who has never reached an ATP final before.
Watch the Nice Open 2012 live tennis action through TennisTv.com featuring Almagro vs Baker in the men's singles final.