Thursday 9 May 2013
Will 2013 be the year the 35-year-old German finds some luck at Wimbledon at last? Wimbledon.com wonders...
Spool through Tommy Haas' Wimbledon record and you find yourself questioning why on earth he has 13 as his lucky number.
There was the year he injured himself when stepping on a ball during the warm-up, and could not complete the match. Another summer, he had to abandon his tournament because of food poisoning brought on by the cheese and broccoli he had eaten the night before. The German missed one Championships to care for his parents, who had been involved in a serious car accident, and another as he recovered from a shoulder operation. One summer he made it through to play Roger Federer in the fourth round, but did not appear on Centre Court after tearing a stomach muscle in the match before. As Haas once observed, "you could say that I've had some bad luck at Wimbledon", and yet this summer, at the age of 35, he could be a menace on the lawns; one of the Big Four could have the misfortune of having the former world No.2 in their section of the draw.
Perhaps 13 isn't such a perverse choice of lucky number for the unluckiest Wimbledon competitor of modern times. This week finds him at No.13 - his highest ranking in years - after he won the BMW Open in Munich at the weekend by beating Philipp Kohlschreiber in all-German final. "It's a sensational feeling to be quite honest. It was another one of those milestones that I hoped for, to maybe win this title one year. To have done that, this late in my career, is a big highlight for me. Every time you win a title, it's a reflection of putting everything together the whole week. It doesn't happen that often. You're really proud of these moments," said Haas, whose other highlights this season have included reaching the final in San Jose and beating Novak Djokovic on the way to the semi-finals of the hard court tournament in Miami.
By the time The Championships start at the end of next month, he could be inside the top 10 again. And that would be a remarkable achievement for a player in his mid-thirties who has had to deal with so many physical ailments (he was once so concerned that he had been poisoned during a Davis Cup tie in Moscow that he had toxicology tests done - which came back negative).
As long as he doesn't do anything to offend Lady Luck, the ghost of Fred Perry, or the Wimbledon gods, Haas could help to shape events at the All England Club. No one should be in any doubt that Haas knows his way around a grass court. He is a former Wimbledon semi-finalist - his grass-court plans haven't been wrecked every summer - and last year he defeated Federer in the final of the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Halle. Many spectators on Henman Hill will wish Haas well. If ever there was a tournament which showed that players don't fade away in their 30s it was last year's Championships when both singles titles were won by 30-somethings, Federer and Serena Williams. Haas, in his own way, could do something this summer for those who have left their 20s behind.
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