Saturday, June 27, 2009
Tommy, Tommy Haaaaas!
Went for the glamour shot. Heh. How could I not?
This is Tommy Haas of Germany. He's a veteran tennis player at 31 years old. I've always loved watching him play, but have only sporadically rooted for him. I don't know, something about his attitude (and pretty boy looks, maybe?) turned me off. But now, at the end of his career, I find myself rooting for him mostly for sentimental reasons. It does help that he has a beautiful one-handed backhand, which for me has always been a big attraction as far as tennis goes.
Tommy was hailed early on as the next Boris Becker in Germany, along with Nicolas Kiefer. Neither lived up to the hype, and honestly, after reading some of the German pressers I have felt for both of them. The German press has been brutal on both them as far as expectations and disappointment goes. Tommy did reach a ranking of number two in the world, but has never won a Slam title. In addition to this media pressure, Tommy's parents were involved in a horrific motorcycle crash at the height of his career. They were apparently very lucky to be alive, in fact his dad was in a coma, and the recovery for both was a long process. This had to have a devastating effect on his concentration. (As a side note, by the way, his parents are friends of Arnold Schwarzeneggar's, and Tommy received a call from him following the accident.)
Haas has also suffered a shoulder injury which led to surgery on his rotator cuff. This kind of surgery is usually career ending in tennis, but Tommy worked extremely hard to come back to the tour and is still in the top 30. A couple of years ago, he was warming up for a match at Wimbledon and stepped on a tennis ball that had rolled in front of him as he was practicing serves. He sprained his ankle and had to pull out of the tournament. Ouch. Some very tough luck for the German over the years.
In the last major, the French, Tommy was up 2 sets to love against Roger Federer and was close to breaking Roger's serve in the third. Roger somehow pulled that match out, partly due to some drop in Tommy's level of play, and it had to be a heartbreaking defeat for the German. Not many 5 set matches are lost after winning the first two, and the term "choker" is often applied after such losses. Rather unfairly, I think.
Tommy unfortunately had to re-live this same scenario at Wimbledon yesterday. He led Croatia's Marin Cilic two sets to love and then lost the next two. They were 6-6 in the fifth when the match was suspended due to darkness. Most hard core tennis fans were glued to this match today as they resumed play, trust me. My heart was beating fast as I watched Tommy serving for the match at 9-8 and then face a break point! He saved that and went on to win, 10-8.
What am I doing rooting for this guy, by the way? He's in Roger's half of the draw! He also won a pretty prestigious grass court title coming into this year's Wimbledon. I guess, like Scarlett, I'll choose to think about that tomorrow.
(By the way, the "Tommy, Tommy Haaaaas!" comes from some silly cartoon my kid used to watch where the fighting characters would yell something like "Kamekameha!" I never figured out what they were saying, but I would yell my little reply and drive my kid nuts. Hee.)