Tennis Elbow: 30 is the new 20
October 22, 2012 · Print This Article
It had been just a little over three years for Tommy Haas–three years of competing on the ATP World Tour, and nada to show for it.
Oh, Haas did win a few matches between 2009 and 2012 but never many–he had only 3 victories in 2010 and 7 the following year. Both seasons, he only played, respectively, 7 and 19 matches for the year due to injuries. That’s the life of a professional tennis player. You win some sometimes, you lose some often, and other times you get injured–or at the very least, too often that’s been the life of Tommy Haas.
But Haas is healthy this year. Of course, there are probably few people who thought anything of it entering the season, when the German was ranked No. 205. He looked, and played, like the 33-year-old that he was.
Though he had other visions, the results were middling early in the season as most victories were followed by defeats–until Halle, of course. But really, Haas’s ascent came before Halle. It came at Roland-Garros, where he managed to qualify for the main draw and was up a set in the third round over Frenchman Richard Gasquet before bowing out.
Two weeks later, he captured the 2012 Gerry Weber Open in Halle–and there’s an obvious parallel to draw with his 2009 title at that same event in the manner that both were captured. This year’s win over Tomas Berdych (i.e. then ranked No. 7) is equivalent to 2009’s victory over then-No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Not only that, but both times Haas defeated fellow countryman Philipp Kohlschreiber in the semifinal before winning the title in style, beating a current member of the top trio–Novak Djokovic three years ago, and Roger Federer this year.
And since Halle, well, Haas has only improved and has made two other finals. One look at the current ATP World Tour rankings shows two 30-somethings at the top and bottom of the top 20. If King Roger being the top ranked player on Tour can be explained by saying that it’s just what King Roger has accustomed us to, it’s more difficult to fathom Haas being ranked No. 20.
The native of Hamburg has played unbelievably well this season, but that was never his problem. Haas won a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and, once upon a time, was ranked No. 2 on Tour and now has 500 victories in his career. He will not equal this ranking, but there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s still possibly the lone player who can say he has a more stunning backhand than King Roger–and there’s something to be said for that.
Part of the reason why he soared through the rankings so quickly is that he has had so few points to defend from the 2011 season. The bad news is that he will have that many more points to defend in 2013–but what’s next year for a 34-year-old tennis player? If by his form Haas seems to show that 34 is the new 24, his body will remind him that it really isn’t.
So far this season, Haas has won 31 matches and lost 16 matches. That’s just as many wins and one less loss than he had in 2009. No doubt this time Haas will look to add a win, not a loss, in the remaining few weeks to the season.
It’s always forward, never backward–this starts this week, at the Valencia Open where Haas is a lucky loser.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @CeeeBG