SONY OPEN TENNIS 2013
Bollettieri: Haas A Huge Inspiration
by Matt Fitzgerald|
Tommy Haas is the feel good story of this year’s Sony Open Tennis in Miami. The 34 year old posted his first win over a World No. 1 in 14 years when he ousted two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in the fourth round and reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final since 2006 after routing Gilles Simon on Wednesday evening.
Haas’ performance en route to the last four at Crandon Park is just another chapter in the German’s remarkable resurgence on the ATP World Tour. In 2012, Haas was voted the ATP’s Comeback Player Of The Year by his peers. Among his highlights last year, Haas jumped 184 Emirates ATP Rankings places, defeated Roger Federer to triumph on home soil in Halle and joined the 500 match wins club.
From February 2010 to May 2011, Haas missed 14 months due to right hip and right elbow surgeries. His longtime mentor Nick Bollettieri states the on-court success Haas has found at this stage of his career is more significant than when he ascended to World No. 2 nearly 11 years ago.
“Only a few people in life can come back to a one-on-one sport the way Tommy has,” Bollettieri tells ATPWorldTour.com. “There’s nobody protecting you. It’s not like a team sport where you can hide. You can’t do that in tennis. I’ve had two students do it: Andre Agassi and now Tommy.
“I would say coming back like he has is what the world will remember over him being the World No. 2. He was counted out, had operations, had to get wild cards, enter qualifying. This is more impressive. He’s shown it ain’t over till it’s over. He was counted out as an old man, so the way he’s come back is even more incredible.”
Bollettieri believes there are two components allowing Haas to still perform and win at the highest level. The 81-year-old pioneer credits Haas’ all-around game, which he hasn’t compromised despite his numerous setbacks, and the German’s family.
“His all-court game has made it possible for him to be where he is today. If he just had one style, he wouldn’t have made it back,” assesses Bollettieri. “He has a beautiful slice, passing shots, good volleys, can hit a flat and topspin forehand and backhand and has a nice serve. He’s in great shape physically. That to me is why he is still playing.
“I sincerely believe him having a family has also been a great equaliser for him. It’s the same for Roger Federer. If you can have a piece of tranquility and something to look forward to, that’s pretty damn powerful. His young daughter Valentina and wife Sara Foster have been a good balance for him.”
On Friday, Haas will look to continue his run in Miami when he plays third seed David Ferrer. The Spaniard has won both of the pair’s previous meetings, but the two have not faced off since 2008.
“Tommy will have to play aggressive and take the opportunities when they come. When you play David Ferrer, he forces you to over hit,” Bollettieri says. “Tommy has been through a lot of matches. He needs to stay calm. He knows enough about Ferrer and respects him. Tommy is going to need to use his variety of shots. He’s been serving well, which is big for him.”