TOMMY HAAS INTERVIEW after defeating Djokovic
Q. Are you surprised what happened, or after what happened in Queen's you were pretty confident you could repeat?
TOMMY HAAS: I didn't play in Queen's. In Halle. No problem, I understand.
Well, having played him in Halle and having beaten him there obviously gave me confidence for today. He is obviously ranked No. 4 in the world for a reason. So, you know, knew that I have to take my chances if I'm going to get them today and play very solid.
I think once again today I served extremely well and didn't really give him much of a rhythm. He never really got, you know, a groove on returning well to maybe get some confidence or break me.
Even though he had a chance in the second set, I think the second set was maybe the key for the match in some ways, because the whole time in the second set we were both just holding serve pretty comfortably.
Then somehow I broke him where he made a few loose errors. I played a couple good points to go up 6‑5. All of a sudden I lost four points in a row on my serve, which before I've always constantly held serve pretty easily. I felt like I didn't really go for it. I hesitated. He came up with some good shots.
Next thing you know, I'm down in the tiebreak, 3‑6. Then I just yelled at myself at 3‑6 basically, Wake up. This ace good chance to go up two sets to love. Within a minute I won five points in a row. That was huge, I think, to kind of give me the two sets to love lead.
He played a good game in the third to break me and served well to serve it out. I kind of waited around and see if I could get a chance, which I did in the fourth.
Q. Are you reviving serve and volley, Tommy?
TOMMY HAAS: I don't know. You know, when you get older like me, you know, you try to get free points as much as you can. It's been working so far. It's been good when I'm serving well, first‑serve percentage has been pretty good lately. You know, I feel like at the net I can do some good stuff. So far so good.
Q. What was the difference that turned around the match against Roger at the French Open? Why do you think he was able to win that match?
TOMMY HAAS: Uhm, well, for one because he's Roger. Number two, probably, I mean, that breakpoint, you know. He kind of went for it with a big forehand inside out. He played a good point.
Then, you know, the game went over deuce. The next game, I think I had 40‑15; didn't win that game. Also went over deuce. A couple big rallies I didn't make, and next thing you know he served it out to win the third set.
His momentum went up and mine kind of went down a little bit. The fourth set I let slip away totally, because probably at the end of the third because mentally I just let go for a second (snapping fingers).
When do you that against him he's just going to jump on top of you like no other player. You can't allow yourself to do that.
Fifth set I tried again really hard. I think at 2‑All in the fifth he just came up with the better shots.
Q. He said belief was the difference. That his belief is what carried him through that match. How did you see that manifest itself?
TOMMY HAAS: Well, I mean, good thing he believed because, you know, that ball was awfully, awfully close, you know. If he didn't make that shot I was going to serve for the match. At 5‑3, two sets to love up, I would have liked my chances. We'll never find out.
But, you know, good thing he had the belief. At the end of it, I'm happy that he won the whole tournament. So, yeah, he has all four, so that's good. Enough of the French.
Q. You have had a lot of struggles and injuries. You're getting older. Is there still unresolved business, a big statement you could make career‑wise?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, well, I mean, basically I think if you just look through the past, I don't know, maybe 13, 14 years of me playing Wimbledon, you know, there's a lot of bad luck involved.
Even the matches that I have lost in the third round to maybe get a little further, you know, I've lost a lot of tight ones. I always felt like deep down Wimbledon will maybe still have something left for me. It better come up soon, because I'm not getting any younger.
This is obviously the best results, the best tennis I've played here, the best I've been feeling. And, you know, unfortunately my next opponent is a really tough hurdle to go by.
But, you know, I feel like I'm playing some great tennis. We've had a good battle at the French, but I'm obviously realistic of who my opponent is. So we don't need to talk much about it. Just go out there and compete hard and see what happens.
Q. Can you mention or say a couple words about tough matches you've lost here or the tough issues you've had here physically.
TOMMY HAAS: Well, I don't live too much in the past, to be honest. Whatever happens happens for a reason, I believe. A lot of things have happened. The year I would have been maybe seeded here 3, when I was three in the world, I would have been seeded high, you know, my parents had a really bad motorcycle accident so I skipped that year.
Then when I had a pretty good decent draw where I felt I could get far in the draw, I stepped on a ball in a warmup. I lost three tiebreaks, 6‑6‑6 against Wayne Arthurs in the third round on year. Lost 9‑7 in the fifth one time to Marc Rosset in the third round.
Whatever. I don't remember most of it anyway. That's all in the past. Like I said, I always felt like, you know, on the grass maybe something is still there for me left.
It started in Halle. That for me was huge anyway. No matter what was going to happen here, I felt like, Hey, I'm just going to go, play, and see if I can continue on playing the way I did in Halle.
Winning a title there on home turf was huge.
Q. Compared to someone like Federer who is playing 21 semifinals in a row in the Grand Slams, do you think you were a little bit unlucky in your career when you look back? Past is past, as you say, but a little bit unlucky.
TOMMY HAAS: You can look at life many ways, you know. Sometimes you are a little bit more unlucky than other players. Some bodies hold up better than others. You know in every other sport, as well. If you follow sports in general, some people just are away from injuries, and some are not. Some people are mature at a very young age and have the right team around you, and some don't.
So, you know, you can look at it many ways. You know, I'm sure there's been a little bit of an unlucky side in many ways, but also a lot of lucky sides in my career. So, you know, to be where I am and what I have achieved, to be living and playing the sport that I love for this long, you know, I can't complain.
Q. Can you explain why it has always been worth it to you to put in all the work that has been required to come back from some of these setbacks? What is it about tennis that makes you always keep putting in the time?
TOMMY HAAS: Because these are the moments, you know. I mean, playing Djokovic, you know, one of the best players in the world, you know, on Court 1 at Wimbledon, you know, these are the moments.
Even playing at the US Open, playing the big stages, this is why, you know, you go and do rehab or you train hard. You know, you push yourself even more to try to get to these occasions and follow your dreams as a kid.
We all know, I think, that at some point, you know, tennis players have a short career. You know, some shorter than others. 33, 34, 35, you might be done. Then you have a whole life left. You want to be able to look back and say, Hey, I played the sport that I love as long as I could and I've tried my best. You look back at what you have accomplished and you want to be proud of yourself.
So that's why.
Q. When you eventually retire and look back, would you see Roger's inside‑out forehand as the foremost opposition shot that you faced in your career that impacted your career?
TOMMY HAAS: I don't understand that question exactly. But, you know, the only last thing I want to say really about the French Open and Roger's matches, you know, for me that would have been a great success beating Roger in the fourth round if it would have happened.
It's in the past. It's done. But being a friend of his and knowing how much it meant to him winning the French Open, I'm happy he made that shot. So, I mean, you know that's basically all there is to say.
Q. If you could pick up a surface, you have to play Federer, you can choose between indoor, grass, clay, and hard, where would you list first, second, third, and fourth?
TOMMY HAAS: What would be the least?
Q. No, the one you would prefer, then going down.
TOMMY HAAS: I would prefer to play him on Rebound Ace because I have a lead there 2‑1 against him. That surface no longer exists. There you go.
Q. What about the others?
TOMMY HAAS: I don't know. I mean, you know, maybe we can like create a surface, you know, that just plays really good in my hands against him. But, no, I mean, he's good on all the surfaces. He's got an all‑around game.
I feel like I can play on all the surfaces. I'm one of the players now that has titles on all surfaces, which is huge with the win in Halle. So it doesn't matter.
You know, when you go out there against him you know what he can do, you know what he does well, and you just have to try to really go for it at the right time. When you get your chance, you got to make it happen.
Q. Wimbledon has been a happy hunting ground for German tennis players in the last 25 years. Are you beginning to believe that you might be able to follow in their footsteps?
TOMMY HAAS: Those are big footsteps to get into. I mean, obviously Steffi had such great success here. I was watching Boris when I was young. Every year I was looking forward to watching it on TV, him playing Wimbledon. He had, what, seven finals here; he won it three times. One time Michael Stich came along and beat Boris in the finals.
We were very blessed in Germany having three of those players. So it was very hard for all of us to maybe try to get in their footsteps. But I don't think you really want to get in their footsteps. You want to try to maybe accomplish some of the stuff they have, but it's not an easy task.
I think German tennis is still, in many ways, if you look at the past with Kiefer or Schuettler, we've had some success with getting very far in Grand Slams. Not as much as they have. Which country has, by the way? How many Steffi Grafs are there, or Boris Beckers? There's not many.
We just go out there, I just go out there and try my best no matter what. You know, like I said, my next opponent is somebody that's probably gonna go down as the greatest player ever. It's gonna be a tough hurdle to go by, but we'll see what happens. It's not over yet.
Q. Novak spoke of feeling quite nervous out there. Did you notice that? Do you think maybe your age and experience were telling out there today?
TOMMY HAAS: That surprised me a little bit that he was nervous. He's been on big occasions before. You know, he's obviously a world‑class player who has won a Grand Slam. He's been in the semifinals here before, as well.
So, I mean, I don't know. Maybe it's good that I didn't really give him so much rhythm. Like I said, I was serving pretty well, trying to mix it up against him. But I really didn't notice that he was nervous.
But, you know, I'm sure he can play better tennis. But I'm happy he didn't today.
Q. You mentioned a moment ago that your next opponent will probably go down as the greatest player ever. What do you marvel at most when you consider what has made Roger the greatest?
TOMMY HAAS: What do I like about his game the most or in general?
TOMMY HAAS: Oh, well, let's talk about that after the match.