Tommy Haas Press Conference
D. FERRER/T. Haas
4-6, 6-2, 6-3
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. I tell you, when you got the break back in the third set and you went up 3 1, it felt like you had control of the match. I guess a loose game at 3 2, and it started to slip away. What happened in that third set when you were up a break?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, I guess right there when you were mentioning it. I knew after the second set I got broken for the first time, he started playing more solid. I got a lot of deep balls. You know, he made life pretty tough on me.
After the second set I just tried to forget about it and really regroup in the third and told myself, Come on. All you have to do is play one great final set to maybe achieve another big goal of mine.
You know, start off with a break. He broke me back. Then I got a rebreak again. Felt pretty good. Played pretty good tennis there. Then held to 3 1. He played a pretty good service game. Then at 2 3, I couldn't buy a first serve, really. That sort of hurt me quite a bit now that I look back into it.
Then at 15 30, played a good rally, and, you know, I had the shot I wanted, approach shot, came up a little bit and hit it deep. When you put yourself in a position like that against someone that's that good and that consistent and keeps putting pressure on you trying to actually make the shots all of the time, it's tough.
You know, even at 3 All I still felt, okay, no worries. Have to keep it up. I started missing a little bit and came up a little too often. He didn't miss at all anymore.
That's the difference. That's why he is where he is and that's why he deserved to win. Even at 4 3 on serve, 15 30, same thing, good rally, had the forehand, the shot again that I wanted, came up again. You can't allow yourself to do that against those top players like that.
Q. After you were broken for the last time you looked really sort of angry at yourself, had your head down, talking to yourself. Were you thinking anything special then or just anger?
TOMMY HAAS: Anytime I think any of us, or at least when I play, I like to at least try to make the guy hit the shots to pass me or to beat me.
I felt like I sort of made few unforced errors. I had the double fault to give him the break. That's not satisfying to me. You know, I can't really walk off the court feeling like, you know, that's okay. I mean, I played Raonic in San Jose. I played so well that you walk off and say, I had no chance. You feel better about it.
And I felt like, you know, like I was just mentioning it, I had the few shots that I wanted and I just couldn't capitalize, I couldn't really let him come up with the goods at the end, you know. I just made few too many unforced errors and that's frustrating.
You know, I knew that when I made those mistakes that, you know, I might have, you know, might let it slip away, my chance. If I make those shots, maybe come in and give him the pressure shot to pass me, you know, and if he does so, great, then that's too good. But I didn't give him that position, and that frustrated me.
Q. Obviously the disappointment is still fresh, but how do you feel overall about the performance this week and beating Novak the other night and getting to this point?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah. I mean, obviously, you know, I'm going to have to let it sink in a little bit. Frustration is always tough. Anytime you lose it's tough.
That's why hanging with my daughter is obviously the best thing for me. Then you forget about it pretty quickly. You're just happy to be here and happy to have them around. And, you know, obviously this whole week, this whole ten days being in Miami you know, I also want to do a big shoutout to my friend Jeff Stauffer (phonetic) who we have been staying with privately here, giving me his house, his staff, first class for me here with my family.
Beating Novak Djokovic, coming back, beating Simon, getting to the semis. It's been an unbelievable tournament, something that, you know, I will definitely cherish for the rest of my life.
I'll continue and I will try to get better and take this momentum to the next weeks and months, try to stay healthy. This is what it's all about for me, you know, going out in front of a packed house like that, playing the best players, and still feeling like I have a chance and playing good matches.
That makes me happy, and I will try to continue as long as I can, because this is a lot of fun.
Q. Guys 30 and older have had a good week here: you and David and others, Melzer. Is there something fundamental going on with the tour, you think, that makes competing more receptive, the tour more receptive to guys in their 30s to hang with these young bucks as compared to 10, 15 years ago?
TOMMY HAAS: The more I think about it, because the question comes up, you look at some of the Tri Athletes and Iron Man guys, they're in their mid 30s and performing at the best, highest level.
I think what it comes down to is the older you get you would assume you get wiser. Now with nutrition and everything you can do, the right training, the physios that you have, you know, it just helps you, you know, mentally, knowing that you're putting in the work.
You know, you just know what works for you best. You know, when you're 21, 22, 23, you're still trying to get into your own body. You might do a lot of lifting, you might do a lot of cardiovascular workout and you try to figure out what helps you the best.
But, you know, with experience, that's why you see so many 30 years old now in the top 100 like never before, just because you're eager, and also maybe you know like this is a way if you want to keep on riding for as long as you can, because realistically you know, for us ,it's not golf. You can't playing unbelievable into your late 30s, 40s, 50s. It's just going to be done maybe at 35, 36, 37, depending on when your body doesn't allow you anymore or when you mentally are just drained from all the traveling over the years.
These kind of weeks you know, that's why I respect these guys doing it week in and week out so much like Djokovic or Murray or Federer, Nadal. It's incredible, you know, with all the stuff that comes around with it, you know, that I sort of dove in again this week a little bit.
It's incredible. It's amazing. But it's you know, I think it's great. I think it's great that people that have, you know, the experience in the 30s are still doing it well.
Yeah, like you said, look at somebody like Ferrer. If he stays fit and plays like that, I'm sure he will continue for the next two, three, four years as well.
Q. How frustrating an opponent is he? It seems like he never backs away.
TOMMY HAAS: That speaks for him how tough he is. It's a pleasure to watch. Tough to play against.
You know, I respect his work ethic a whole lot. I mean, it's really inspirational. And playing against him, obviously, you know, you know you're going to have to come up with the goods, and you know you're going to have to fight for a lot of balls and put yourself in a position to win, which I felt like I did today.
I can't be too hard on myself with that, you know, except, like I said at the end, when you're up 3 1 in the third set, you have to like your chances and I came up short.
Q. What are your plans this year? Are you making this your last year, do you know?
TOMMY HAAS: No. (Shaking head.) Not to my knowledge. I mean, it's look, I mean, I don't know. It's like you know, I mean, I live in the moment. I don't look forward and I don't look in the back, the past.
So it's like my next tournament now is Houston. I'm going to have a nice little vacation next week and regroup and recharge the battery and look forward to the clay court season. Obviously have some goals there in the big tournaments and go back to grass, which I look forward to, and US Open hard court season and already looking again at Asia and indoor season, and Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's already the year is over. (Laughter.)
It goes really fast, trust me. The time that I have off I try to be a good father and a good husband, and that's it. You know, then hopefully I'm still healthy and fit and eager to go for 2014.
Q. You were out of tennis in 2003, but what were your impressions when your friend Roger Federer won his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon?
TOMMY HAAS: It's great. I think for anybody when you win your first Grand Slam I can't speak for it. I have been to a few semis and obviously felt like in my prime when I was playing some of my best tennis in '01 and '02, I felt like I had maybe the best chance in that time to maybe win a Grand Slam to fulfill my ultimate dream.
Then with a switch, you know, 2002 when I sort of reached my highest ranking, 2 and 3, my parents were in a motorcycle accident, took six weeks off, and at the end of the year had a shoulder surgery, which is unusual for a tennis player. I was gone for 15 months.
In that time somebody like Roger Federer developed and took over the game, and, you know, so I think, you know, I think maybe for every player that if you win it once and you have that feeling of winning a Grand Slam, which again I can't speak about it, but you want more of that. Once you have done it, the belief is there. Everything, you know, sort of falls, you know, to the side. The monkey is off your back. You feel you can do it.
And you see that also with the guys that have won the Grand Slams in the past. They usually win those again because they have just been there and they have the experience.
Q. You know him so well. Were you surprised that he did what he did in '04, '05, '06, the way he dominated?
TOMMY HAAS: Well, in '03 when he started, obviously I didn't play the whole year, and then '04 I came back, and, you know, I don't know when I first played him again, maybe in '05 or something, or in '06 we played a good match at the Australian Open. He just took off to another planet at that time.
Everything he did was just almost perfection. You know, and he did it for so long and so consistently. And, you know, like I said, I don't know you know, I think, like I said, once you have maybe that slam in the back, you know, you want more and you get it again and you're No. 1 in the world, everything seems to fall in place. You know, maybe it's just a way you usually see those guys keeping it up.
You know, I'm not surprised necessarily. I mean, he's always had the game, always had, you know, the all around game. You know, when you focus and you work hard and you want to achieve things, you know, it's possible to do these things.
Q. There is a lot of talk about how much you've worked and what it takes to compete at this level and all the stress and obligations and stuff. It's also got to be a tremendous joy and a lot of fun. Can you just address how you feel going through all this experience?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah. I mean, it's a lot. I mean, it's something, you know, you want. In the end of the day, the most joyful time I have is when I'm on the court playing great tennis, entertaining the crowd, playing in front of the big, on the big stadiums.
Those moments are that's what you dream about when you're a young kid, you know. You have these imaginations playing at the big tournaments and going out there and competing hard.
You know, for me still to be doing that at a high level and, you know, still at this time of my career, celebrating some of my biggest wins, you know, even like beating Novak here five nights ago or whatever, it's fantastic.
So, you know, doing that also now with being a father, you know, it's a whole different situation for me. My parents were here this week, and it's great, you know. I'm really happy and blessed to still be experiencing all of this, and if I consider myself maybe, you know, have a big chance to walk away from this game a few years ago and I didn't do it. And, you know, now I'm still competing, playing well, and I'm feeling pretty well out there.
I'm just looking forward to hopefully the next challenge and hopefully, you know, see where else it can take me.
Q. Speaking of that, Maria Sharapova said about a year and a half ago you hit with her a lot, obviously from the Bollettieri days. She said it didn't seem like you were moving well, were down on yourself. You were coming out of the hip and knee. She was so proud of you and you were a great inspiration to her. Do you see something similar with Maria? She came back from a horrible shoulder surgery, and look what she's done. Have you always known she's had it in her?
TOMMY HAAS: Absolutely. I know her work ethic. I have seen her practice when she was seven years old at the academy, and some things you never forget. You see sometimes seven , eight year olds practicing, and you see these parents out there that think they're pretty good. And you look back when you saw Maria or other kids at that age, you know, dominating the sport.
You know, I mean, I felt for her too when she had shoulder surgery. She was asking me which doctor I went to, and I think ultimately she had the same surgery done by the same doctor. You know, it takes a lot of time until you get the trust back and the feel. It took her a long time. And then she sort of never really thought she might have been the same player and struggled with her serve a lot.
But, you know, when you are that dedicated, you see her work ethic and obviously she's also now coached by one of my ex coaches, who I think is one of the best coaches out there, it's fun. Sometimes people laugh at me when they say, Oh, you practice with Maria sometimes, because sometimes we are in LA or Florida. But her work ethic and strokes are really that good to be a great workout for me, as well.
It's a lot of fun. I mean, she's professional inside and out, and it's great to see her, you know, really, really doing unbelievable again. And winning her French Open title last year was great for her to get all four and stuff.
So, you know, I follow her career obviously. Really happy and proud of how she's doing.
Q. When you just said about the time that you were off tour because of the injuries and the surgeries and all that, and you didn't know whether you would be coming back, what would have been the alternative? What would you have done otherwise, do you know?
TOMMY HAAS: I have ideas which I'm not necessarily going to talk about, but I think I would have just stepped away from the sport for a while and just sort of, you know, maybe do nothing for a year or as long as I felt like I needed to not do anything until maybe something is driving me nuts just being at home.
But I think it's important maybe I'm not sure. Maybe some people need to do something right away after the tennis career. Maybe some people just to need to take a little break or slowly, you know, take their time away from the sport. You know, I don't know.
It's going to be interesting. You know, it's like I guess that's sometimes a little bit of a frightening situation for any athlete to really just say, Okay, I'm done.
And then, you know, I don't know if the pressure is gone and you feel relieved or if you feel like, What's next? Or if you have a family or not. I think that can help you if you have one, because you can really dedicate yourself to just being a good father and helping your children.
I don't know yet exactly what I'm going to do. Obviously I have played with in my mind, you know, the thought of what would I do, and there are things that really interest me. And obviously it's probably going to be tennis involved and some things that I'm really eager to do maybe even still after my career, and hopefully some of those dreams will come true, as well.
Q. Roger Federer's back is starting to hurt him. He's in his 30s now. You're almost 35. You have been hurt for so long from such a young age. Do you think that's why you're still hungry? You're a different kind of comeback player twice. Seems to me that's why you're so eager to be back here at 35.
TOMMY HAAS: It could be. You know, it's like I try to sometimes look at it maybe with compared to like Andy Roddick's career. He came up at 18, playing 25, 30 weeks every year. He was one of the most consistent players on the tour.
When he retired last year at the US Open I was sort of shocked when he announced it. But at the same time, if I would put myself in his shoes, how consistent he was so many years and how he was still trying to just, you know, win the next slam or big tournaments, and maybe he felt like, you know, that ship has sailed. Maybe it was just too much for him, and he just said, I'm done.
But he was consistently playing year in and year out, top 10, getting far in the tournaments, making the Masters every year, playing deep in the Davis Cup. So there was a lot of tennis, a lot of yards.
My career is totally different. It was up and down. You know, I had like not that I wanted it, but, you know, in between I had 15 months off. Not a great 15 months, because it's not like I think it's also different when you, as an athlete, say, I need four months off, I need to regroup myself and work on something in the gym and practice and just sort of, you know, build myself up.
I was always going in the other direction, you know. In the end of the day, you know, you try to avoid surgery as much as you can, but then I had surgery, another surgery, and you've gone for 15 months and you try to come back. You don't even know when you're going to come back. You have to rebuild your ranking, try to get into position.
Then I was thrown back another shoulder surgery and hip surgery. It's really you know, it's frustrating, but, you know...
Q. You're still around?
TOMMY HAAS: I'm still around. That's what makes me most proud in some ways, because I feel like I can still prove to myself that I can keep coming back and still can, you know, feel like I can still play with the best of them. That makes me happy.
Q. How much money are you making off the court? How many endorsements do you have?
TOMMY HAAS: To be honest, not too much. There has been some movement after this week, that's for sure. (Laughter.)
Q. Surprise, surprise.
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah. You know, it's not something that, you know, I'm eager to do anymore. I really there has been other options I have had, even with clothing deals and stuff like that.
It's not something that I really believe in or that I feel like it's not worth it for me. I have been around for that too long, too much. I really just, you know, go out there to really you know, I'm sad in many ways that it ended here in the semis, because I would have loved to get the chance to play in the finals and maybe lift up a trophy of such a big tournament one more time or at least give myself a chance, but at the same time, I'm more than proud of myself getting that far, putting myself in these positions and try just to continue and see what else is left for me out there. And that makes me happy.