The other big story joining Naomi and Juan’s heroics last fortnight was Tommy Haas’ retirement announcement. The German, now tournament director at IW of course was as graceful, humble and captivating in his deliverance as he was as a player.
Possessing a wonderfully fluid yet powerful all-court game, Haas was comfortable on all surfaces, reflected in QF berths at all four majors and semi-final showings at Wimbledon and the Australian Open, three times at the latter. He had the full repertoire but a complete net-game and lovely one handed backhand were the highlights.
Alas, like poor DelPo, the German’s is another career blighted by injury, making him surely one of the greatest to have never won a Grand Slam title, one Masters 1000 title (Stuttgart 2001) and a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics could have been so much more.
Despite his many absences from the tour, two occasions being for 12 months, Haas love for the sport is echoed by his longevity and ability to still beat the very best at approaching 40. See his defeat of Federer in Stuttgart last summer on the grass.
My own memories of the man focus on an early evening Wimbledon first rounder in 2009. Me and some friends had scored Court One resale tickets and Haas was playing. There was an aura of humbleness and a complete absence of ego emanating from the man. He played well and dazzled the crowd and -as his opponent took time out for an injury – he obliged in some practice with the willing ball kids.
In many ways a player from a previous generation or two, but never nothing less than an excellent advert for the sport.