Roddick, Haas square off in SAP Open quarters
Andy Roddick and Tommy Haas will meet in San Jose quarterfinals on Friday night. A Roddick win could set up a rematch of last year's title match against Radek Stepanek.
Veterans Andy Roddick and Tommy Haas will do battle for the 11th time in their careers in the quarterfinals of the SAP Open on
Friday night. Somewhat surprisingly, Haas is a dominant 7-3 in the head-to-head series. He has also won the past three meetings, including most recently at last year's Masters Series Indian Wells. Roddick, who is 3-3 against Haas on hard courts (Haas is 4-0 in clay-court encounters), last defeated his opponent three years ago in the semifinals of this same San Jose event.
Although Haas has the head-to-head advantage, Roddick appears to have an edge in current form. The sixth-ranked American is already flourishing under esteemed new coach Larry Stefanki. He finished runner-up to Andy Murray in Doha and reached the semifinals of the Australian Open, taking out Novak Djokovic in the quarters before falling to Roger Federer. Similar form showed at the 2008 U.S. Open, where Roddick also reached the quarterfinals before losing to Djokovic in a heated four-set contest. So far in San Jose Roddick is looking like the No. 1 seed and defending champion that he is. Seeking his fourth SAP Open title, Roddick kicked off the week with a 6-0, 7-6(3) victory over Swedish qualifier Michael Ryderstedt and on Thursday defeated Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 7-6(3).
Haas has also been playing relatively well, but the issue has simply been playing at all. Due to more physical problems, the oft-injured German missed the entire fall of 2008 following the U.S. Open. Earlier that summer he had been enjoying decent form, reaching the third round of Wimbledon, the quarterfinals in Indianapolis, the third round of the Masters Series Cincinnati, and the semifinals in Washington, D.C. His first tournament back, the Australian Open, was the only event in which he participated this season prior to San Jose. Haas reached the third round in Melbourne before getting blown out by eventual champion Rafael Nadal. This week he has dispatched both Lars Poerschke and Christophe Rochus in straight sets.
When healthy, Haas is clearly still going strong at 30 years old and he will have his chances to pull off this upset. He has to serve well since Roddick is so tough to break, and he will want to get his opponent into as many backhand-to-backhand rallies as possible. Unfortunately for Haas, this match should be dictated by Roddick, so he probably needs the top seed to have an off day. Those, however, have been nonexistent for Roddick so far in 2009. It would not be surprising to see Haas steal a set, but look for Roddick to advance to the semifinals.
If Roddick wins, a rematch of last year's title match with Radek Stepanek could be in the making. Stepanek plays little-known American qualifier Todd Widom earlier in the day on Friday.