De Bakker Ready To Take Centre Stage

“Although I am the top-ranked Dutchman, I don’t feel extra pressure and I would love to break into the Top 50 this year,” said the 21 year old at his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, in Indian Wells.

“I’ve worked hard over the past 12 months, my basic level is high and that has helped my consistency. Physically the guys on the ATP World Tour are much stronger and they don’t make stupid mistakes, and generally do everything a bit better.

“I am doing a lot better and hopefully I can make the next step.”

Under the guidance of Rohan Goetzke, the technical director of the Dutch Tennis Federation, and with support from 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek, de Bakker has already risen 26 places this year to a career-high No. 73 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings.

“Rohan is helping me out at the moment, as I haven’t got a coach right now,” the Gravenzande resident admitted. “Obviously Richard has helped me, he’s a great guy and keeps pushing me to improve my game.”

A former junior World Champion and 2006 junior Wimbledon titlist, 6’4” de Bakker has an aggressive game, good hands and has crafted a fluent serve and powerful forehand.

Last season, the right-hander compiled an outstanding 23-2 match record en route to four ATP Challenger Tour titles in six tournaments prior to the biggest win of his career on Davis Cup duty for the Netherlands against France at Maastricht in September.

“My win over Gael Monfils [then World No. 13], definitely gave me a boost to become a better player."

Now, having reached his first ATP World Tour quarter-final at the Aircel Chennai Open (l. to Tipsarevic) in January, de Bakker is confident he can produce a better performance against Roddick than he did at the Australian Open.

“I think I was nervous at the beginning in Melbourne and I made some early errors that affected my confidence,” said de Bakker, who has a 0-3 record against Top 10 opponents. “If I play my own game and serve well I’ll be difficult to break.”

Krajicek remains the only Dutchman to have won an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, having lifted trophies at the Stuttgart Indoors in 1998 and the Sony Ericcson Open in Miami in 1999.