So it is only fair if a downpour comes to their aid now and then. When umbrellas went up around Court No.1 last night, and play was suspended for the evening, Jamie Baker had conceded the opening set on a tie-break to Andy Roddick and was a break down at 4-2 in the second.
But as he walked off court, the 25-year-old wild card – the third leg of a potential first-round Scottish hat trick at the All England Club – was both unbowed and unbeaten. For the one hour and 45 minutes that the pair had been on court, he had traded blows on equal terms with the former World No.1 and US Open Champion, and belied a difference of 160 places in the world rankings. He will have to do it the hard way when play resumes this afternoon if he is to take the British contingent in the second round up to a round half dozen for the first time since 2006, but no-one who witnessed his display would suggest that the Scot's cause is entirely lost.
Indeed, roared on by extended family clad in Team Baker t-shirts, this match was grist to the mill of those who suggest that his mid-twenties is not too late for Baker to make serious inroads into the world rankings. As recently as 2008, the Scot had to spend three days in intensive care after contracting a rare, potentially life-threatening blood condition known as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. As recently as 12 months ago, his world ranking wasn't high enough for him to merit a wild card, and he lost out in the second round of qualifying against Andreas Beck.
But all those years of frustration, those long-haul flights of travelling to unglamorous tournaments in outlying backwaters of world sport, were worth it yesterday when he was given the chance to mix it with one of the biggest names tennis has to offer and briefly looked like climbing the mountain.
The portents were all there: Baker went into the match at a career-high ranking of 186, buoyed by a famous victory over Roddick's countryman Donald Young at Eastbourne, and after the best part of six months as a regular hitting partner of his friend Andy Murray. But just maybe Roddickwas still surprised by the ferocity and consistency of shots which he found coming back at him. Maybe Baker even surprised himself.
But probably not. The 25-year-old had actually played on Court No.1 before – losing a dead rubber to Marin Cilic in a Davis Cup tie in September 2007 – and he had no desire to return there as a tourist. He had spoken pre-match about the virtue of getting his teeth into the match early and was true to his word, seeing those booming 130mph Roddick serves clearly on a dull night on SW19 and sending most of them back with interest. He set the tone by charging into the net on the very first point of the match, only to receive an unfriendly net cord. Were it not for these kind of margins, it could quite easily have been Baker who was a set to the good tonight.
From the outset there was pressure on the Roddick serve, as the Scot conjured passing shots and drop volleys with finesse. The American's first three service games all went to deuce – four on the first, two on the second and one on the third. Two more arrived in his fifth service game – along with two precious break points, the only two either man had in the set.
Typically though, Roddick raised his game just enough to save them both, and prolong matters into a tie-break. History will show he won the breaker with the loss of just one point. It will probably gloss over the role one particular line judge played in it, however, calling a Baker forehand long which clearly landed on the line, forcing the chair umpire to over-rule and robbing the Scot of a mini-break which would have levelled affairs at 1-1. Instead, Roddick's confidence surged, and after another bizarre intervention from the same official, a booming ace down the middle clinched a taut set which had taken 69 minutes.
Relief coursed through the World No.26, and in the very next game Baker had to save two break points to hold. Despite further inroads on the Roddick serve, the American broke again for 3-1 and managed to maintain his two-game advantage until the heavens opened.
Should the Scot complete mission improbable this afternoon, for his first Grand Slam win at the sixth attempt, he could do worse than take inspiration from James Ward, the man who is ranked 173 and is the authentic British No.2. The Londoner also had to do things the hard way, trailing Pablo Andujar of Spain by two sets to one, and then 3-0 in the final set before he completed a famous 4-6, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.
Afterwards, Ward said it was the biggest win of his career. "I knew I had it in the tank, and if I kept on going I'd get a few chances," he said. "Grass isn't his favourite surface, don't get me wrong, but he's 36 in the world and wins titles on clay for fun."
A good day for the Murray family was complete when Jamie and his doubles partner Eric Butorac resumed their match against Andre Begemann and Igor Zelenay and completed a 7-6 (5), 6-6 (3), 4-6, 7-6 (4) victory.
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