Tommy Haas

Born: April 3, 1978 in Hamburg
Height: 1.88 m
Plays: Right-handed
Began playing at age 4 with his Austrian father (“haas” is a Dutch word, means ‘hare’), Peter, who is a former European champion in judo and an ex-schoolmate of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Haas’ career is one of the longest (21 years at the main level) & strangest, interrupted as many as four times by long breaks, even six times if we count his junior career. Haas’ potential was noted by tennis guru Nick Bollettieri. The US coach was so impressed by the young German’s talent that he offered Haas the chance to stay and train at his Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, for free. Haas began attending at age 11. At 13, speaking little English, Haas moved full-time to Florida to train at the academy along with his older sister Sabine. Two years later, he appeared on the ATP ranking thanks to some points obtained in American Satellites.
In January ’95, Haas broke his leg and didn’t play for four months at all. When he came back, he had to modify his plans, and instead of attacking bigger events (Challengers & ATP), he continued his junior career, achieving the best result at the end of the year when he lost the Orange Bowl final to Mariano Zabaleta, coming back from another injury which prevented him for playing several months. First attempts to enter the ATP events (progressing through qualifications) weren’t successful, and Haas decided to play his farewell junior event (Roland Garros, quarterfinal). Afterward, as an unranked player, he debuted – thanks to a ‘wild card’ – in a Challenger in Weiden and advanced to the final, defeating players with ATP experience. It boosted his confidence, and when he got a ‘wild card’ to his first main-level event in Indianapolis, he reached the quarterfinal, being stopped by the best in the world – Pete Sampras.
A few months later, they met again, and Haas easily took a set in Basel (4-6, 6-2, 3-6). Then it was quite obvious that he’d be a Top 10 player soon. Bollettieri said that Haas was the most gifted player he had ever trained. Indeed, the young German sometimes was playing like “unbeatable Roger Federer” many years later: a very good serve, great movement, equal easiness to hit the ball off both wings, amazing backhand… attacks to the net? – no problem after the serve and during rallies with different approach-shots. When they met in the Aussie Open ’02 it seemed their technical skills were at the same level. The big problem was consistency, something that was bothering the young Andre Agassi (albeit the teenage Agassi achieved much more than the young Haas) – if Haas had had a good day in the years 1997-98, he would have easily won; if things didn’t go his way, he complained, mixing English & German, was throwing his racquets & losing quickly. He was almost deprived of really dramatic matches in the first two years of his career.
Another two years finally delivered complex matches. Haas reached the Australian Open ’99 semifinal & obtained an Olympic silver medal in Sydney ’00, on both occasions being beaten by Yevgeny Kafelnikov. It seems the end of 2001 brought the best version of Haas, and he would be able to fulfill expectations. Between Long Island ’01 and the Australian Open ’02, he was actually the hottest player on the tour, winning 29 out of 34 matches (three titles, including the biggest in his career, Stuttgart indoors) – it meant more wins than notched the best player at the time – Lleyton Hewitt. That fantastic streak was soon reflected in the ranking. Haas became No. 2 in the world in May 2002 (after the final in Rome), and there are two curiosities connected to that year proving Haas’ weird career: despite being No. 2, he didn’t play the “Masters,” neither that year (one match in Paris separated him from that) nor in the future – no other player ranked so high, never participated in the season-ending championships. The second curiosity – he underwent right rotator cuff surgery in New York on Dec. 20, 2002, which caused the first of his four long breaks (2003, 2010/11, 2014/15 and 2016 – each time he missed ten months at least).
In 2003, he didn’t play at all, another time sidelined for a year he was between the seasons 2010-11 as he underwent right hip surgery on Feb. 21, 2010, and one month later underwent right elbow surgery (at the time he had an abysmal 3-12 record); the third long break as a pro it’s a period between May 2014 and June 2015 (arthroscopic surgery on right shoulder again), finally, the fourth break, the longest in his career, occurred in the entire 2016 as on April 13 that year, he underwent the ninth surgery of his career to repair a torn ligament in his right foot! He was sidelined for fifteen months. As a 39-year-old father of two daughters, he came back one more time in 2017 to play his farewell season, losing more often than winning, but in Stuttgart as No. 302 he stunned 36 y.o. Federer [5], saving a match point, in the oldest ATP match since the 1981 Brisbane 1R (46 y.o. Mal Anderson defeated 28 y.o. Jim Delaney), thus 75 years combined beat 74… Haas was an all-court player, capable of playing well on each surface. There’s one interesting thing about his five-setters: no other player in the Open Era has won so many 5-set matches being 1 or 2 points away from defeat. The German won six five-setters saving match points (out of twelve matches of this type he won), including one of the most amazing matches in history at Roland Garros 2013 when he ousted John Isner, having wasted twelve match points in the 4th set (nine at 6:5!)… then he saved 1 MP at *4:5 in the 5th set, earlier trailing 0:3 (30-all). If he had lost that match, it would have been the record of match points wasted before a loss. Besides six “best of 5” MP-down wins, he also won thrice in five-setters being two points away from defeats.
Career record: 569–338 [ 348 events ]
Career titles: 15
Highest ranking: No. 2
Best GS results:
Australian Open (semifinal 1999, 02, 07)
Roland Garros (quarterfinal 2013)
Wimbledon (semifinal 2009)
US Open (quarterfinal 2004, 06, 07)
Silver medal at Olympics in Sydney 2000
World Team Cup champion 1998 and 2005
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1 Response to Tommy Haas

  1. Voo de Mar says:
    Five-setters: 21–21 (50%)
    Tie-breaks: 214–168 (56%)
    Deciding 3rd set TB: 10-13 (43%)

    MP matches: 12-12
    Defeats by retirement: 24
    Walkovers given: 9

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