OVER the next fortnight, Wimbledon fans will be wallowing in the court action, while desperate for inside info and assessement.

That’s where the smart-suited, James Bond-cool Jamie Baker comes in.

Not only will the Scots commentator explain what’s happening out there, but what’s likely to happen if, for example, Andy Murray’s second service slows to the speed of a rickety Glasgow bus. (Heaven forfend).

What viewers won’t be aware of however is that Glasgow-born Jamie, who had reached number 6 in the Junior ITF rankings,was once a net-chord decision away from close pal Andy in terms of potential.

Well on course to break into the world Top 100, (the point where your encouraged to stare expectantly into Ferrari showroom windows) disaster struck.

Jamie had overcome a serious knee injury at 13 but in 2008 far worse was to come.

“I was 21 and just starting to get up the rankings and I had qualified for the Australian Open,” he recalls, sitting in an office in London’s Regent’s Park.

“I was right up there with my peers but when the illness hit it set me back for at least two years.”

An auto-immune disease had developed as a result of ignoring flu in order to play one more tournament.

Jamie was placed in the intensive care until of a Florida hospital. It was life or death. He eventually returned to the tour. But depression had kicked in.

“The thing I’ve always struggled with, and will do for the rest of my life, is the thought I was so unlucky from a tennis point of view.

“I have this guilt in my head when I think about could have been.

“Yet, on the other hand I’m so incredibly lucky to be alive. It’s always been about getting things in perspective.”

Jamie now 30, walked away from tennis four years ago.

But there was another reason he didn’t make the Top 100.

“I’m competitive. It was there from a young age. (A sports psychologist once said he would run through brick walls to chase a ball down.

“But perhaps I’m a bit of an over-thinker. I’ve always had a philosophical, broader view and the knowledge that losing wasn’t quite life or death.

“In contrast, for Andy, the idea of processing losing isn’t part of him. He couldn’t not win. As a result the consequences of losing, for him, are so much greater than for other people.”

“But every time I lost a tough match it would knock my self-esteem and it would take a few days to recover. I always managed to pick myself up, but I lost those days in between.” He reflects; “Top sports people say ‘It’s not how many times you fail, it’s how your react to the failure’. Maybe I held myself back a bit because I dwelt on not being good enough for too long.”

When Jamie, walked away from tennis four years ago he landed part-time work with Eurosport, commentating on matches.

But he had already looked to a permanent career in city finance. He was signed up by an agency which finds work for athletes, recognising their great transferable work skills.

Jamie now works for Santander, specialising in hotel finance, based in North London. But he is also their personal development officer, an inspirational guide, bringing out the best in staff.

It makes sense. If you were once Love- 40 down on your serve in the 90 degree heat in a small tournament in a corner of Mexico and earning less than the cost of your flight home, you know about real pressure.

If you were part of the tennis world that drank tap water out of tennis cans and slept in shabby hotels, you’re aware of life’s values.

“Exactly,” he says. “And there’s another factor. In tennis you get feedback with every single point, whether you’re a winner or a loser.

“You’re constantly having to deal with a feeling of failing, and then having to do something about it. But then you walk into an office job and you think; ‘You know what, I can deal with that. This isn’t really a crises at all’.”

Tennis demanded much of Jamie. Aged 12, he was advised to move to Loughborough to train with the nation’s tennis elite.

It meant his dad Gordon relocating his job to go with him while mum Lynne stated at home with brother, Stephen.

How can he thank them, given he’s Scottish and words of appreciation flow as easily as thick porridge?

“That’s so true,” he says, laughing. “But I had a good crack at it during my groom’s speech at my wedding last year (to long-term girlfriend, Laura.) But it’s true. The family was split up, and that was an unbelievable sacrifice.”

Jamie loves the game again. He now lives little more than a good forehand drive length from Wimbledon where he’s a club member, and tries to play tennis a couple of time a week.

“Since I stopped playing I realise how much I love getting on the court, finding someone of a similar level and then shaking hands at the end of it, and forgetting all about it.”

He adds, smiling; “It’s a fantastic game. “I played when I was four. My gran still plays in her eighties. My mum plays a lot. It’s such an asset in your life.”

There’s a baby Baker on the way, and a baby racquet will be bought soon. But he reckons golf to be a future bet.

“The financial reality is tennis players below the Top 200, who are incredibly good can’t make a living. When you think of tennis being a global sport it’s shocking.”

Jamie Baker reached a career high of 185. If he were the 185th best footballer he’d be earning millions. “I would be in one of the best teams in Europe,” he says, with a shrug. There needs to be a rebalance.

“The money is at the top because that’s what the consumer wants to see. There are really five or six players people will buy tickets to watch.”

Is there a chance he will move into television full-time? He’s a natural, and has had no training. “It’s been a bit sink or swim. My only training was having a camera stuck in my face as a player.

“Now, I try to add to the viewer’s experience, offer little nuggets for the viewer to watch out for.”

His natural conversational style and philosophical overview will win out. The watching world is certainly ready for someone who is a little less Andrew Castle self-assured.

Whatever his career choice, Jamie Baker will be successful. He’s clever. And he has balls. Once when warming up with David Nalbandian before a Davis Cup match, the Scot was close to the net when the Argentine tried to take his head off with a shot to the face.

“I had to move quickly to get out of the way,” Baker recalls, grinning.

“But I took a ball out of my pocket and fired it like a squash shot hard at his groin. I thought’ ‘You’re not going to get away with that, son.’”