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First-Time Winner Spotlight Robin Haase

Kitzbuhel, Austria

Haase© GEPA PicturesRobin Haase is the eighth first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season.

Robin Haase became the eighth first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season when he edged the more experience Albert Montanes 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 in the final of the Bet-At-Home Cup Kitzbühel. caught up with the champion after his victory.

Final Report

How does it feel to breakthrough and win your first ATP World Tour title?
It’s an amazing feeling. I’m really happy that I won. It was one of the goals this year to make it into a semi-final or final, and maybe win it. I was close a few times when I played good but actually lost to good players. To win this match and beat good players this week was really great.

What did you do well to put five matches together and win the title this week?
Definitely I served well from the beginning. Today, actually, in the second set I served bad, but that was the only time and the rest of the tournament I served really, really well. Then I attacked with my forehand and I was defending really, really good this week, so I didn’t make a lot of unforced errors. I think was the key of this week.

You had a knee injury two years ago and last year you were awarded ATP Comeback Player of the Year. Looking back, with all the hours of work you’ve spent, does this mean even more to you?
It’s definitely a reward of putting so much practice and effort into coming back. It’s so hard to get back from an injury and especially the one I had. I was out for one and a half years, I didn’t play a match and I wasn’t even sure if I could come back. I was crying sometimes at home because I just didn’t know what to do anymore. I saw so many specialists and in the end they couldn’t really help me. It’s great that after being Comeback Player of the Year I’m now a first-time ATP winner.

You are the first Dutchman to win an ATP World Tour title since Martin Verkerk seven years ago, how does that feel for you to put your country back in that circle?
It’s definitely a great feeling. To be now a winner and in the roll of names and the statistics of ATP winners is great.

With you and Thiemo de Bakker leading the way in the Netherlands, how do you see the future of Dutch tennis?
We have a young Davis Cup team. At the moment Thiemo is not playing so well, he’s struggling a little bit, but he has the game to comeback pretty easily if everything fits together. But now we have another great player in Thomas Schoorel. He’s two metres, two centimetres, he’s serving and hitting his forehand unbelievably hard and I think a lot of players are scared to play him, especially in the first round when you don’t yet have rhythm. So I think we have a great team and Dutch tennis is definitely going upwards.

By winning your first ATP World Tour title you also broke into the Top 50 for the first time. How does that feel and was it one of your goals coming into the season?
My goal is still to be Top 50 at the end of the year, because I need to defend a lot of points, although I won 250 this week. It’s definitely a goal from here on. Also, a goal was to make it into my first final and hopefully win a tournament, so it’s great that I won right away and now I’m looking forward to some more success.

You’re pretty consistent on all surfaces; did you expect your first title to come on clay? What is your favourite surface?
It’s hard to say. I can play really well on grass, I showed this year at Wimbledon and two years ago at Wimbledon playing [Lleyton] Hewitt and [Rafael] Nadal, lost to them in five sets. I can play on every court. My best semi-final was on clay, so of course if you look at that maybe you think it happens on clay first – winning a tour title. But definitely I can win on hard court as well because I beat players like [Juan] Monaco, [Andy] Murray, [Tomas] Berdych, [Ivan] Ljubicic, these are big names on hard courts. So I think hopefully I can win one on hard court as well.

Now that you have won your first title, will you change your goals for the rest of the year? Is there anything specific you want to achieve?
Well now, of course, I want another one or to reach another final. But I don’t immediately want to say ‘I now want to go to the Top 30,’ because as I said, I need to defend also a lot of points because I won a lot of Challengers last year. I think step-by-step and I’m improving all the time and this is a big step for me. If I’m around this spot at the end of the year, I think I will have played a good, decent year on the ATP World Tour and hopefully next year I can get higher.

Is there anyone in particular who has helped you get this far in your career?
Definitely, of course, my coach Dennis Schenk. We’ve been working together for six years. Even in my injury time we were still working together, and of course he did some side things because it was a lot of money to pay when you’re not earning anything, but he always wanted to work with me and that gave me a lot of confidence. My family and friends are always there for me if it’s tough, and I have a lot of people I can talk to if there’s something, so it’s great.

Are there any former players who were an idol for you when you were a kid?
My idol was always Andre Agassi. I loved his character on the court and loved the way he played. I know as a young kid I wanted to wear the same things, use the same racquet. I sometimes even wanted to play the same way, but I noticed really quickly that that was not my game.

When you’re off the court, are there any interests or hobbies that you like?
I like watching other sports live, not so much on TV. On TV I prefer to watch some TV shows, funny shows or some action like ‘24’. I love to read as well; since I quit school I’ve read a lot of books and it doesn’t really matter what kind, if it’s a thriller or even Lord of the Rings, also biographies of athletes or musicians. It’s nice to do something with your free time.. I read books in English, Dutch and German. For example I read Andre Agassi’s autobiography in English, but I read Boris Becker’s in German, and lots of thrillers I actually read in Dutch.

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