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Tommy Haas Blogs From Memphis

© Mike Baz

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I knew I was going to see Andy Roddick across the other side of the net in the final today, but I didn't realize we'd run into each other so early in the day. When I got to the Blue Plate Cafe for breakfast there was a wait of about 20-25 minutes and Andy was already two places ahead of me in the line. I would have been ahead of him had it not been for my girlfriend. Just kidding :)

It was really busy in there today as people were having breakfast either on their way to church or on their way back from church. So that made us both rush a little bit. We just said 'good morning.' That was pretty much it. He was waiting in a different corner to me. If I had been alone we may have chatted more but I was there with my girlfriend.

Obviously I was very happy to win the title today and with the way I played. It's the first time I've defended a title and the first time I've won a title without facing a break point. It's been a phenomenal week and I've played some great tennis.

You want to enjoy it and not be in a rush but I have a 5.30 flight to JFK (the only way I could make it on time was to go by private plane) and then I have a 13-hour flight to Dubai. It would be nice to stay here the night and celebrate but unfortunately I don't have that luxury. I was glad to see my girlfriend Sara here over the weekend. She's going to drive up to Nashville later today to see her other sister.

In Dubai I look forward to meeting up with my sister and her nine-month-old daughter I don't get to see very often, and seeing my coach Thomas Hogstedt. Rushing to a tournament like this isn't the ideal preparation but what can you do? The time change will be pretty brutal. But I've never been to Dubai before so I'm looking forward to that. I've heard a lot of good things about it.

Thanks for reading the blog this week. I'm glad I could keep up the good winning record of bloggers!


Saturday, February 24, 2007

It was an early wake-up call this morning to prepare for an 11 a.m. semifinal against Mardy Fish. Tom and I arrived at Blue Plate a little before eight and there wasn't a lot of conversation over breakfast - it was all we could do just to keep our eyes open. I actually had a chat to the tournament director to discuss the early start and he said that next year the semis would start a bit later.

I was very pleased to get another win today and reach the final here in Memphis for the third time. My girlfriend and her younger sister flew in from Los Angeles today. It's just a quick visit because straight after the final tomorrow I've got to get on a private jet to make it to JFK in time to catch an 11 p.m. Emirates flight direct to Dubai. When I get to Dubai I'll hook up again with my coach Thomas Hogstedt, who is already there spending time with his family. He's been text messaging me every day giving me a few pointers and thoughts on my opponents.

I want you to meet one of the many volunteers who may the tournament tick. This is Jerry (pictured above), a phenomenally nice guy who is always in good spirits and someone you can always rely on. He always looks out for me and my friends when we're in town and he's got up at 4 or 5 o'clock many times to take me back to the airport. One year I remember giving Jerry a call saying my parents were coming into town along with my dad's parents and asked him if he'd pick them up and show them around. He took such good care of them over a couple of days, taking them to Graceland and driving them around Memphis.

I didn't give him much notice. Jerry tells the story that I called him up at work at 10.30 a.m. and asked him to pick up my parents from the airport around 4 the same day. It was a last-minute decision of my parents to go, and then it clicked that I had a friend there who could maybe show them around. Jerry dropped everything he had on and showed them a great couple of days. They went to Graceland, to Blue Plate Cafe, so they got a little feel of what it's like during the tournament week.

Right now My dad is in Florida and I thought about bringing him here this week but he's more interested in getting a suntan and enjoying the beach.

I want to say hi to Glenn Weiner through the blog and wish him all the best for what may be the start of a promising coaching career. He hasn't decided to stop playing but he's had some injury problems with his left wrist since the US Open and the last two or three weeks he's started teaching a bit at the Bollettieri Academy and he has the chance to travel with one of the young rising players, Philip Bester, of Canada. He left a message on my phone Friday saying that he's arrived in Texas - there is a Future there somewhere - and all the players were asking him how he was doing and if he was playing.

Wish me good luck for the final,


Friday, February 23, 2007

I finally managed to get a photo away from the site to show you. Here I am enjoying a latte at Starbucks, which is just up the road from the club and also the tournament hotel. On an earlier visit to Starbucks today (I've lost count how many times I've been there this week!) Tom and I got into an interesting conversation with a group of girls, who were probably around 17 or 18.

One of the girls pulls out this love letter and starts reading to her friends and we overheard some of the lines. We asked them kindly to pass the note over to us and it was a phenomenal letter written by a young guy obviously trying to win the heart of this girl. I remember some of the lines:

I will protect you like a wolf
I will ward off your enemies
God shall be on my side

He was telling her everything he liked to do, his favorite movies, music. It was cute in a way. He is trying to win her but it looks like a tough task, even though deep down inside I think the girl liked the attention. In front of her friends she probably felt like the 'it' girl.

I'm not sure if they recognized me. They asked us what we were doing and we said that we were just spectators at the tennis. Whenever Tom and I sit down we seem to strike up a conversation with people. Tom's not shy! He'll always open the door... it's just a matter of how it shuts on us.

There is a railway crossing just a few steps outside Starbucks. Tom likes to get right down by the boom gate and feel the ground shake as the train roars past. He had me waiting outside in the cold for this train. I was imagining the headlines in the newspaper: "Haas withdraws from semifinals after catching cold waiting for train." In the lead-up Tom get's so excited. "The light has turned from green to red, that means the train is on it's way," he said. Then he's down there touching the track, putting his hear to it. In this day and age that sort of stuff will get you arrested.

So the train finally roars past but he was a little disappointed because the cars were empty and the ground didn't shake like it did the other day when they were full with coal. He takes trains seriously. I think Polar Express is one of his favorite movies.

Anyway, down to business. I promised to answer some of your emails, so here we go...

Tommy, you have been in the U.S. a long time and seem to like it here. Have you ever considered becoming a U.S. citizen?
I have thought about it but while I am still playing I want to play Davis Cup for Germany. I've been here a long time and probably will spend most of my time in the States when I'm done with tennis. It also depends on who I settle down with.

Wow! You lead a pretty exciting life. Almost ran out of gas! Had to slide into the passenger side to get in the Mercedes! Actually though it made me feel better that I'm not missing anything glamorous. Sounds just like one of my days. Also I wanted to mention that diet of yours. Have you had your cholesterol checked lately? Steak? Pancakes and eggs?
Another Tommy
I haven't had a check lately but to my knowledge I'm doing fine. I have a blood test in Germany every once in a while to make sure everything is in line, and so far so good.

Who's the biggest ladies man of the ATP tour? Dmitry Tursunov and Vince Spadea claim they are but you've done quite well
Marat Safin would definitely be on top of the list. Feliciano Lopez would be up there. A guy like Mark Philippoussis, although he's not playing that much anymore. Those guys seem to be having quite a lot of fun.

What do you think you would be doing if you had never played tennis?
Michael Jonckheere
Tough to answer as all along I've always wanted to be a tennis professional. When I was young I thought being a pilot would be cool. My dad always wanted me to be good at judo because that was a sport he did for a long time, but I never saw myself doing that. Right now I'm living my dream. Maybe after tennis I will find something that interests me.

Where is your favorite place to plays, besides Germany. Like what is your favorite tournament? Might it be the Australian Open since you've made the semis three times?
The Australian Open is one of my favorites and I like the tournaments in the States because everything around is familiar to me. There are so many good ones. There aren't really any that I don't like.

I play my semifinal tomorrow against Mardy Fish at 11 a.m. Hopefully I'll have some good news to report in my next post.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

hear there was some talk in the press room today about the first serve streak I had going. After winning all 20 points on my first serve in the first match against Vince Spadea I won the first 17 points on my first serve today against Amer Delic. While I was aware I went 20 for 20 against Spadea it really wasn't on my mind today in the first set. I was conscious that I seemed to be winning the point when the first serve went in but it wasn't till after the match that I was told the streak got up to 37 that I was fully aware of it. I'm sure that's not going to happen again anytime soon.

Today's match against Delic was unusual for another reason: neither of us faced a break point during the match. I can't remember the last time that happened. I remember losing to Wayne Arthurs in three tie-breaks at Wimbledon in '99, but he saved one break point and I saved a few.

Tom today was keeping track of how many times I changed the radio between the hotel, Blue Plate Cafe and Starbucks, which at most is 1000 yards away. He told me it was 38 times. He gets quite annoyed we don't listen to his choice but I'm in the driver's seat so he has to sit there and take it. I keep changing until I find something that smoothes my mind.

I was thinking earlier in the day that some items were missing from my laundry bag when it came back. It seemed like I'd only gotten about half of it back and Tom didn't think he'd got his all back either. There's some Calvin Klein underwear I can't find and also some match shirts may not have made it back. I've been on the road a long time and I've probably only got five or six shirts left. I normally like to throw a shirt or wristband into the crowd at the end of a match to give something back to the fans for supporting me but I may have to start rationing that. Laundry Update: It looks like I have all my clothes (and underwear!) back :)

Benjamin Becker told me he saw my comments about his clothes in the blog and that he'll have a talk with Boris. But he said that he didn't remember me telling him I thought the clothes were ugly. "Well I'm telling you now that they're ugly," I said.

Tonight I'm going to watch some of Benny's match against Roddick. Apart from that it will be a quiet night ahead of tomorrow's match against Sam Querrey.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I thought it was about time to introduce you to my physio, Tom Seifert. It's just the two of us this week but things can get confusing at times when we're joined by my coach Thomas Hogstedt. Too many Toms! So we have to get some rules in place. My physio goes by Tom, my coach goes by Thomas and I don't really even turn my head unless I hear Tommy. We also have nicknames for each other, but let's not go there just now...

My blood pressure was up this morning straight after breakfast. Here in the States the parking spaces are normally quite big, as opposed to Europe, where you look out for the smallest opening. I walked out of the Blue Plate Cafe and this pick-up truck with all kinds of stuff in the back of it parked so close to my car that there was no way in hell that I could get in. There was a gap of like six inches. This guy was chomping down on his pancakes while I was trying to figure out how I was going to get in the car. I was on my way back into the Blue Plate Cafe to look for the guy when I decided that I'd just go through the passenger seat and jump across rather than make a big deal out of it. I had to roll down my window to get some fresh air to calm down. Oh, how I miss my parking space at The Racquet Club!

Last night I had dinner at a fantastic restaurant, Folks Folly. Once you go there you get hooked; the steak is phenomenal. I always go for the filet. I've been a medium guy but have started to go the little more juicy route with the medium rare.

I woke up to a beautiful Memphis day of about 70 degrees and I almost wanted to play outdoors. I practiced today with my Davis Cup colleague Benjamin Becker, warming him up before his match. Normally I would have racquets freshly strung for practice but unusually I played the whole match last night with the same racquet, so I didn't need to re-string before today's practice.

We joked around a little on the court. Benjamin is wearing the Boris Becker line - he just signed a contract last week in Krefeld, Germany, during the Davis Cup week. I gave him a little bit of s... about his practice clothes. "They're pretty ugly," I told him. "Tell Boris to step it up a bit and not be so cheap with his line. Tell him to work on the quality." Benjamin himself said the hats could be a little better.

After practice it was back to the room for a little nap. I tried to fall to sleep at 2.30 and told Tom to wake me at 4, but then I told him 4.30 and later 5 because I couldn't fall to sleep. I was watching the great trial of Anna Nicole Smith. Where is she going to be buried? Is it going to be the Bahamas, is it going to be Texas? Maybe now California? Who is the real daddy?

And then there's the judge! He's quite funny most of the time and I think he's looking at Hollywood after the case is closed. And most likely he'll get a job there in this crazy world. I've been following a bit of Britney Spears, also. Hopefully she'll come through therapy well and we wish her all the best. Can't wait to watch the news later tonight to follow it more. That's what passes for news these days.

On Thursday I play my second-round match against Amer Delic. I'll talk to you after that.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

You don't have to go looking for trains in Memphis. They normally find you. It's a trademark of the city to hear the huge freight trains rumble through the city, sounding their loud horns.

But my physical trainer, Tom Seifert, who is here with me this week, has always been fascinated with trains (He wants to do a train journey through Canada.) So yesterday at Starbucks we stepped outside and we walked a few meters down to the tracks, where he took great delight in showing me the engines and carriages.

Speaking off coffee shops, I must tell you that I need my latte at night or I can't sleep. People say they don't drink coffee at night because it keeps them awake, but I'm the opposite.

Last night after Starbucks as normal we took in a movie. Tom was really tired and wanted to bail out on the movie but I like to joke with him that he's my slave this week and there' was no way he was going back to the hotel. He was coming to the movies. It was a coin toss between Music and Lyrics (Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore) and Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage). I heard Music and Lyrics is more of a 'chick flick,' so I'm going to wait and see that with my girlfriend. The best you can say about Ghost Rider is that 'it is what it is.' It's not my favorite, but it was free!

Two night ago we went saw Breach with my good friend Hugo Armando and Xavier Malisse, who I have a good relationship with. It wasn't bad, but it didn't have enough suspense or action for my liking. I'm a tough critic.

More trains this morning on our way to breakfast at the Blue Plate Cafe. We got stopped at a rail crossing and we must have sat there for five or six minutes as this train with 200 or 300 containers of coal rolled past. We were really low on gasoline - the needle was already on empty, so I was getting a little nervous. But fortunately we had enough gas to make it to the gas station and then after that I had my normal breakfast of pancakes and eggs. We saw Xavier and Hugo. We asked Xavier about the MRI he had on his wrist. It looks like it's just tendinitis and he's going back to Bradenton where we live to take a couple of days off.

I played the night match against Spadea so I had some time to kill during the day. I warmed up a little bit at the club and in the afternoon I took a little nap and then went to Starbucks again. For some reason today I could only sleep for 15 minutes but usually I like to take 45 minutes to an hour.

I got a text message from my Dunlop rep. today. I played with the new color racquet of Dunlop today. I was supposed to make the switch at the end of last year but I didn't fall in love with the colors and thought the racquet was playing a little differently. They prepared a new one for me and those racquets came in five or six days ago. Today was my first test with the new racquets. It's probably just a mental thing but you're thinking that maybe the racquet could play a little differently. He was surprised that I was trying the racquet in a match so soon. But I thought it's better to change early and so far, so good.

A day off tomorrow, so look out for another post.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Welcome to Memphis everyone, where the tournament really knows how to look after its former champions. Not only do I get to drive a beautiful Mercedes S-Class 550 but I also get my own reserved parking space just 20 feet from the front door to the club.

I played qualies back here in '95 or '96 when I was 17 or 18 years old and I saw the people like Sampras, Courier, Chang and Todd Martin who had their name on parking spaces up front and I thought that would be really cool to do that one day. This is where I won my first ATP title back in '99, beating one of my idols growing up, Jim Courier. I remember saying in the final speech that I won't have to worry about parking next year. It seems to be a big deal because everyone keeps mentioning that. But you don't get extra privileges for winning it twice - I still just have the one space despite winning the tournament for a second time last year. But what can you do with two parking spaces, anyway :) It's a cool thing to never have to worry about your spot.

The only shame is that it's such a short drive between the hotel and the tournament site. You can walk to the site in less than five minutes and everything you need is just around the corner, like the restaurant Houstons and the movie theater (where our badge gets us in for free!) The longest trip we have is a three minute drive to our breakfast hangout, Blue Plate Cafe. So my physio and I joke that we need to go on a road trip and see Graceland or something. But I've been to Graceland twice, so I don't need to go back.

I took last week off after playing in the Davis Cup team that defeated Croatia. Let me tell you a little bit about what happened to me after the tie.

The tie was played in Krefeld, Germany, about 30 minutes from Duesseldorf. The night of the win the head of our new team sponsor, Vivacon, a real estate company, took the team to a nice bar/restaurant, which at that time of the night, we basically had to ourselves.

My goal was to stay awake for the whole night so I could sleep all the way on my flight back to Los Angeles, where I was going for 4-5 days to visit my girlfriend. I had to leave for the Frankfurt airport at 5 a.m., which is about a 2 1/2 hour drive away. My plan was to stay awake in the car so I could sleep on the plane and it worked very well - I slept for about 10 hours of the 11 1/2 hour flight.

It was tough to keep my eyes open in the car in the early hours of the morning, so I was texting a couple of friends the whole time, listening to my iPod and talking to the driver. You feel a little obligated to keep him company at that hour of the morning, because it was a big effort for him to get up so early. And he also had to drive back! So I gave him a little information on the Tommy Haas life.

They have a really cool first class check-in in Frankfurt. You basically step out of the car, drop your bags and go through a totally different security system without any lines and right away you're there in the first class lounge. They treat you like royalty. This was my first time doing it. On long trips I normally fly business class but on this occasion I flew first.

When it's time to get on the Lufthansa flight they pick you up in a Mercedes S-Class with your own escort. They drive you around the airport and I asked to be driven around a bit more because I'd never done that before. My escort said he could take me the long way round to the plane. They walk you up and escort you to your seat and say 'have a nice flight'. I couldn't wait for the plane to get to 33,000 feet, so I could put the seat back and get to sleep.

This was my first taste of the first-class experience and I have to say the Germans know how to do that well. But so do the good folks here in Memphis. I love my parking spot!

I play my first match here in Memphis tomorrow against Vince Spadea. I'll make a new post after that.


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