March 9, 2007
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please, for Tommy Haas.
Q. Coming into Indian Wells, how do you feel right now?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, obviously, feel pretty good, looking at the results the last couple of weeks, you know. It's always tough to play here, it always take you a few days, you know, with the high altitude, balls keep flying a lot, nice surroundings, good weather, good fans, you know. It's nice to be here.
Q. Has that been a constant struggle for you just, you know the atmosphere, the way the balls bounce out here?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, a little bit. I think not only for me, but for a lot of people, you know. You go up in tension a little bit. You try to experience a different type of play. It's really tough to go for your shots because you need to hit them, I think, almost perfect in order to make them.
So you adjust a little bit, you experience a little bit, try to feel as comfortable as you can. And then once you play, you don't really have much of a choice anyway. You go out there and do your best and try to win.
Q. Which tournaments is the conditions similar to?
TOMMY HAAS: None.
TOMMY HAAS: No.
Q. Do you think these conditions benefit Federer's game?
TOMMY HAAS: You know, if you go by the last couple of years how he's been doing here, you know, I think he kind of likes it. You know, I think everybody is trying to adjust when they come here, and then, you know, once you make it to a certain part of the tournament, I think you feel pretty comfortable about your game.
You know, I think the first couple rounds might be always the most difficult ones, trying to find your game, trying to feel comfortable. Once, if you have the chance, make it past a few rounds, then, you know, it's good for everyone.
Q. Federer needs five more victories to equal the record for consecutive victories?
TOMMY HAAS: I saw that, yeah.
Q. Do you think he'll get them?
TOMMY HAAS: Well, I'm sure he's thinking about it. You know, I think he needs to win five matches here to come to the finals, so that's obviously going to be on his mind. Considering how he's done here the last couple of years, he's probably feeling pretty good about it, you know. I'm sure he'll be thinking about it every match and I'm sure the players that will play against him will know about it as well as the week goes on, and be interesting to see what happens.
Q. What do you think it's going to take for someone to break that streak?
TOMMY HAAS: Well, I think it's really only a few players probably that can give him trouble, to be honest, the way he's been playing, obviously, you know. But I think in order to beat him, you have to use your chances and, you know, you know you're going to get some at some point, but you'd better use it, and if you don't, then obviously you're not gone a win.
Q. Who are those few players that you think can give him problems?
TOMMY HAAS: Well, you know, I think obviously Rafael Nadal has been giving him troubles over the past few years, you know. He hasn't been able to play him lately because he's been losing to other tough players, you know, before they would meet up in the finals. You know, Andy Murray is the guy that's beaten him before, who I think has a pretty good game to be dangerous for Roger. Marat Safin, if he's on fire, puts his head in there, he's got a big powerful game to give him some trouble. You know, I think I'm one of the contenders that can give him some trouble and has a chance beating him.
So, you know, there's always some dangerous floaters out there, like we know in tennis. It's really tough how many good players are out there, so anybody on a good day that just keeps his head together and can convert on the big points, which is obviously the toughest thing I think to do against Roger, then, you know, you would have a shot. But in order to get that, you're going to have to play on a pretty high level.
Q. The one guy you didn't mention was Andy Roddick.
TOMMY HAAS: He's obviously one of them as well, sure. I'm not going to go down the top 20 list now and tell you if they have a chance or not, but, you know, Andy's been playing well and he pushed him quite good in the Master's Cup last year. Obviously the Australian Open, there was not much he could have done.
But Andy needs to be playing obviously at a really high level from the baseline. When he has a chance, needs to take it, and then probably needs to serve as well as he can in order to beat him. So not to say Andy can't do that, but he just needs to do it when he's playing Roger, so...
Q. How is the level of your game? What do you think your chances are in the tournament these two weeks?
TOMMY HAAS: I feel good about my game. I feel good physically. I'm in good shape, really enjoying myself out there on the court, you know. It's always a challenge, like I said, the first couple matches or even the first match going out there. You know, I don't know who I'm playing yet, but, you know, it's going to be tough.
But I'm happy to be here again. I've played well here in the past, never reaching further than the Round of 16, but I've had some good wins. I like playing out here. So, you know, if I can get through my first match and feel comfortable, and, you know, play the way I have been playing, I think I'm going to be tough to beat.
Q. When you're playing Federer, and you've had some close matches with him in the past, can you sense him getting a bit nervous in tight situations or does he camouflage, does he mask it pretty well?
TOMMY HAAS: You know, to be honest, I just played him in Dubai. I didn't get a good start, which was a little bit unfortunate for me, and got a break to go down 2-1, had a break chance right in the next game. If I take that, you know, it's 2-all, we're back in the first set. Didn't convert unfortunately until I lost the first set 4-6, second set I was up 3-2, Love-40, three break points, didn't make him play on a few, and then we had an unbelievable rally, which he ended up winning. He ends up winning the game.
At 5-4 in the second set, I have a set point, you know, he comes up with a pretty good shot and I don't make him play. It's just a few points here and there.
The second set probably should have been mine. And then you never know what can happen in the third. Maybe he starts thinking. Who knows.
But obviously he's the guy in those situations that really knows right now what to do and stays calm and play the right shot for quite a long time now. And that's, you know, something you can learn from or look at and say, it's just too good at times.
But, you know, I think like I mentioned before, there's certain times when I feel like certain players that do have a chance, and if they can convert those points...
You know, there's times when I feel that maybe he's starting to think a little bit or gets a little nervous, but obviously has been very few times in the last couple of years, so...
Q. I have an interest in Alexander Waske because he played college tennis in the city where I'm employed.
TOMMY HAAS: Nice city.
Q. How much have you seen him improve since he came on the tour?
TOMMY HAAS: Well, I mean, never actually heard of him until he got on tour, so...
TOMMY HAAS: Now we actually are good friends, and he's a Davis Cup colleague, obviously. And actually the first time I played doubles for my country was with him, and we have a good record, and, you know, he's the type of guy that, you know, is living a dream, and I think is doing more than he ever expected.
But he's, you know, a hard worker and a strong believer, a very confident-type guy, a good guy to have in your corner. You know, he gives it his best every time he steps on the court and fights. And I think college tennis has helped him a lot through that, just the kind of atmosphere you get playing college tennis. You know, you can see that in him if you compare to maybe a couple of other German players, you know. He puts his fist out a lot, you know. He competes hard and he really enjoys himself out there. So, you know, it's great for me to see him do well. And, you know, I just -- wish him to continue to do well and hopefully he stays away from injuries and has a couple good more years left.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for Tommy.
Q. Speaking of college tennis, German players seem to be almost dominating college tennis in the United States in Division 1 Champions from Germany. Why aren't there more German players on your level, or maybe there are?
TOMMY HAAS: Well, we have. Obviously, if you think about it, Nicolas Kiefer has been a player who has been on top of the game for quite some years. Obviously, considering what you think is a top level, I think any player that's in the top 50, you know is a great tennis player, obviously, in the top 100, as well, but top 50, you can made it in a certain way. Rainer Schuettler has had some great years. He's obviously been struggling in the past, but he's still a dangerous player and plays hard and competes hard.
A guy like Becker, who went to college tennis way, coming through strong now, very dangerous, good player, Florian Mayer, Philipp Kohlschreiber, I think they're both in the top 50s, doing pretty well. But I still think they need to get a little bit more tougher mentally and maybe work it just a little bit harder in order to get to the next level. But they both certainly have the ability and talent to do that.
So we have, you know, a few good players. In Germany, it's tough to do both with schooling and tennis. You know, at some point, when you're 18, 19, you pretty much have to decide what you want to do. And college tennis, I think really comes in handy that way because you can still train hard and play a lot of tennis and, you know, play college tennis and still study and do something on the side in case it doesn't happen for you.
So I think that's a nice way to go about for some European players. And German players seem to enjoy it and some of them have some great success. And I think Germany sees that and knows that. So if that's something they can do and have a scholarship and go to America, it's great.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Thanks everyone.
TOMMY HAAS: All right. Thanks.
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