Tennis: Age no barrier as Haas makes up for lost time
MUNICH, Germany – Tommy Haas may be 35 but his weekend Munich title has moved him up to 13 in the rankings— a five-year high – with the eloquent German showing few signs of slowing down.
Haas captured his 14th tour title in Munich, but had it not been for a series of crippling injuries, the former world number two could have had many more.
And he knows it.
“Perhaps I can go on now and win another title this year,” said Haas, whose next assignment is this week’s Madrid Masters.
Haas beat defending champion Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) in Sunday’s all-German final, becoming the first 35-year-old to win a title since Fabrice Santoro in Newport five years ago.
It was his 10th appearance in the Bavarian capital, and his victory on Sunday came 13 years after he lost the 2000 final on his debut.
In the years between, Haas has suffered a succession of hip, shoulder and elbow injuries, missing all of the 2003 season and most of the 2010 campaign.
In 2004, his ranking even plummeted to 1,086.
But last year, Haas was named ATP Comeback Player of the Year before finishing the season as the oldest player in the top 50.
“It’s a sensational feeling to be quite honest,” said Haas as he reflected on Sunday’s win.
“It was another one of those milestones that I hoped for, to maybe win this title one year.
“To have done that, this late in my career, is a big highlight for me. Every time you win a title, it’s a reflection of putting everything together the whole week.
“It doesn’t happen that often. You’re really proud of those moments.”
Victory in Munich gave Haas, who also has American citizenship, an 18-7 match record this year having reached the San Jose final in February when he lost to Canada’s Milas Raonic.
He then claimed a famous scalp in Miami in March when he beat world number one Novak Djokovic on his way to the semi-finals.
The third-seed in Munich, Haas served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but Kohlschreiber dug deep to break back, before Haas started strongly in the tie-break and clinched victory on his second match point.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” said Haas, as Kohlschreiber had won the 2007 and 2012 Munich titles.
“He was looking for his third crown and it was maybe my last opportunity to win the title here, so I gave myself a little bit of extra pressure.
“When I was serving for the match, he played aggressive, came up with some good shots, and was rewarded for it.
“Then I told myself to get into the tie-break and play it as well as you can, because I didn’t want to play a third set against him, having served for the match.”
This was the fourth ATP title Haas has won on German soil having twice won the Halle tournament, beating Djokovic in the 2009 final, then Roger Federer in last year’s title match, having also won the 2001 Stuttgart crown.
Kohlschreiber admitted Haas deserved his win.
“You have to acknowledge his performance,” said Kohlschreiber, six years Haas’ junior.