At the Net: Haas wants back in Top 10

1:17 PM, Apr 11, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Long-time/oft-injured German star Tommy Haas is of an age when most tennis players start making post-tennis career plans, but the one-time world No. 2 is on course to break back into the top 10 for the first time in many a moon.

Thomas Mario Haas, who turned 35 just last week, has been surging on tour since last year, a year he started at 205th in the world and finished at No. 21.

The ATP's 2012 Comeback Player of the Year is now up to 14th in the world and hasn't been in this type of territory since 2007, when he finished 12th in the year-end rankings.

The all-court ace Haas has always possessed way too much talent, including fine movement, a big quality serve, a sweet one-handed backhand and deft touch at the net. But he's never been able to stay healthy, a key to hovering in tennis' upper stratosphere.

The Hamburg native, of course, has been plagued by a bevy of injuries, mostly shoulder ones, for as long as I can remember.

When he's good to go, Haas has placed inside the top 20 six times. But, oddly enough, he's only finished an ATP campaign inside the top 10 once, and that was way back in 2001. He soared as high as No. 2 in the world in the spring of 2002.

But, because of the injury issues, Haas also has placed outside the top 200 on a few occasions and once missed an entire season, which was in 2003.

The 18-year pro embarked on his latest comeback last year when he went 31-16 and shocked (I mean shocked) the great Roger Federer in the final at one of "his" (Federer's, that is) events at the grass-court Gerry Weber Open in Halle in Haas' native Germany. Federer was a five-time Halle champion heading into the final, but no one told the resurgent Haas, who corralled his first title in three years and his second Halle championship in four years. It also marked his first final of any kind in three years.

Note: Haas has titled in Halle only (2009, 2012) over the last six seasons.

The 6-foot-2 Haas reached two other finals last year, losing in his native Hamburg and Washington, D.C., en route to his best season in three years.

Cut to 2013.

Following a slow start that included an opening-round loss at the Australian Open, the oldest player in the top 50 has already appeared in one final this year (he lost to Milos Raonic in San Jose), but his true highlight came two weeks ago when he stunned world No. 1 stud and two-time defending and three- time overall champion Novak Djokovic in a fourth-round affair at the Miami Masters to become the oldest man in 30 years to beat a sitting No. 1 player (just eight days shy of his 35th birthday). Haas' only other win against a top-10 player came against the great Andre Agassi way back in 1999. That's a 14-year stretch.

FYI: The 2000 Olympic silver medalist Haas is 2-14 lifetime against world No. 1s.

Unfortunately, Haas has mostly been a disappointment at the Slams, where he's never reached a final and has appeared in only one semifinal (2009 Wimbledon) outside the Australian Open (where he's a three-time semifinalist). He's never gotten past the fourth round at the French, but is, however, a three-time quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open, including in back-to-back years (2006 and 2007).

Did You Know?: Haas, who resides in Florida and California, became a U.S. citizen in 2010, is married to American actress Sara Foster, who is the daughter of Canadian-born music mogul David Foster, and is the father of a 2- year-old daughter, Valentina.

Haas is seeded second this week at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston. He is 9-3 over his last three events, including a pair of semifinal appearances.

Haas is supposed to be too old to be on this type of run, but he's obviously figured something out (unlike Lleyton Hewitt).

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