Comeback Kid: Tommy Hass' Return To the Top of Tennis
March 23, 2009—Tommy Haas walked off the court in disbelief. He had just been upset by 142-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin, 4-6, 4-6. Haas was now ranked 87th, a career-low ranking for the German.
There had been talks about the 30-year-old retiring—he hadn't been playing well lately, and no one thought he would return to the top of his game again.
Fast forward to July 1, 2009—Haas delivers a huge, heavy forehand and raises his arms into the air. He had just beaten fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic, for the second time in the past month. This time, it was at Wimbledon, a 7-5, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3 triumph over the Serb. He had earned and deserved a spot in the semis.
Up next, world-ranked No. 2 and five-time Wimbledon champ, Roger Federer.
Now, how did Haas get from a 87-ranked, retirement-talking 30-year-old, to becoming the oldest player ever in a Wimbledon semifinal?
Well, his journey started with losses to Mikhail Kukuskin and Bjorn Phau. He needed help. He went to visit some former players for advice. The former world-ranked No. 2 needed a drastic improvement.
His improvement showed in his very next tournament, as he stormed past his first three opponents easily, before losing to Andy Roddick in three sets. He still needed help, either a big boost in a Grand Slam, or something to make him believe in himself.
Well, that boost came in the French Open, when he got to the fourth round, only to face Roger Federer, who was seeking his first win on clay-court. Haas stormed to a 2-0 lead over King Roger, and in the third set, was five points away from ending the Swiss star's dream.
Not to be outdone, Roger roared back and took the third set from Haas. Federer dominated the fourth and fifth set, but for a 31-year-old, Haas gave it his absolute best.
That turned out to be the boost he needed, behind a home crowd in Halle, destroying Stefan Koubek and handily beating ninth-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonfa of France. In the third round, he faced Miscah Zverv and beat him just as easily.
In the semis, he faced fellow countryman Philip Kohlscriber, and after beating him, stunned the No. 1-seeded Djokovic—his comeback had begun. His win in Halle was his first ATP tour win since 2007, a huge accomplishment for him.
So, thats how Haas found himself on Centre Court in the first Men's Singles Wimbledon semifinals against Federer. In the first set, Haas played as well as he could have, holding serve in each of his six service games and pressuring Roger, but never breaking him.
In the tie-break, Federer blew the fans away with spectacular points, and won the set.
In the second, neither Tommy nor Federer seemed to have toned down the least bit. They both held serve for the first ten games of the set. Then, Haas began to crumble a bit. He lost 7-5 and 6-3 in the third to give Federer the win, and eventually the title.
Haas didn't seem too upset by the loss, because he played nearly the best tennis he could have.
One of the major reasons why Tommy's improved so much is because he used to rely solely on the power of his forehand, but he has improved his one-handed backhand and has put a lot more kick into his serve.
I think that's why Tommy has comeback into the top twenty. Now at No. 18, Haas is back to where he wanted to be.
His climb hopefully isn't over, and he could be going a lot further up. Wish him the best!