Daddy's girl keeps golden oldie Haas playing
Date published :
29 May 2012 - 17:46:51
Former world number two Tommy Haas, fighting fit at 34, despite a career plagued by injuries, is determined to keep playing so that his daughter will get the opportunity to see him on court.
The German, who made his French Open debut way back in 1998, went through three tough rounds of qualifying and on Tuesday reached the second round of the main draw with a 6-3, 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Italy's Filippo Volandri.
Even that match was held over from Monday because of fading light.
But the US-based Haas remains committed as he ever was to his sport despite long, depressing spells spent fighting shoulder, hip and elbow injuries.
"My daughter (Valentina) is a year and a half. If I can play another year, year and a half, maybe she gets to see me play at a real high level. That's a goal of mine. I don't know if I'll make it, but I'll try," said Haas, who started the year ranked at 205.
"I also really enjoy playing the game. Obviously there are times where you're not maybe enjoying it as much on the court depending on how it goes for you.
"I was also injured a lot, so I missed at least three, four years of my career. Maybe mentally I'm only 29, 30 instead of my real age."
Haas, who led Roger Federer by two sets to love here in the fourth round in 2009 before losing in five, has endured a roller-coaster career of emotions.
He missed the entire 2003 season due to a shoulder injury, sprained his ankle when he stepped on a tennis ball at Wimbledon and underwent more season-ending right hip surgery in February 2010.
Haas is not the oldest player in the tournament this year -- that honour falls to France's Arnaud Clement, who is four months his senior.
In total, a record 36 players over 30 started at Roland Garros this year.
Haas has no doubt at to why the golden oldies still thrive.
"I think a lot has to do with we're taking care of our bodies much more and realizing you have to be in great shape. When you're in great shape you can go maybe a little bit longer," he explained.
"When I started playing everybody retired at age 30, 31. Stich, Becker, Edberg, all these guys that I looked up to, they left the game during that time.
"One of my other idols Andre Agassi showed that it's possible to play unbelievable tennis at age 34, 35, 36 if you keep yourself in great shape. There is always exceptions even with Connors at 39.
"Who knows if this is still possible at this high level. But I think when you are 30 you also don't want to realize that your time is over yet and you want to continue to enjoy this game, because you know that one day it will be over."