Back in 2000, when Tommy Haas picked up a silver medal at the Sydney Olympics in the Mens Singles as a 22 year old, after a five set defeat to Yevgeny Kafelnikov, he would definitely have not been expecting to be disappointed to not even make London 2012 at a veteran 34 years old.
After an exceptional run of form in 2012, the German has moved from outside the top 200 to twenty-fifth in the world after yet another final appearance, this time at the Citi Open, Washington D.C. Due to the harsh criteria set by the German Olympic Committee, only players ranked 24 or higher were eligible to be chosen.
While Haas was way off qualifying as a direct entrant at the cut-off point, the refusal to support Haas as a wildcard was disappointing for him. This was worsened when Philipp Kohlschreiber was a last minute withdrawal and sixth highest-ranked German Philipp Petzschner replaced him instead. Instead of disheartening Haas, it appears to have motivated him to prove his federation that they wrong not to choose him.
After a disappointing time since returning from injury in 2011, Haas’ career has had somewhat of a revival. While Haas usually preferred the faster surfaces, it was the beginning of the clay season that started it all off again. A semi final appearance in Munich, where seeds Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marcos Baghdatis were knocked out in straight sets, gave a glimpse of what was to come later in the season. Richard Gasquet was given a scare in third round of the French Open, but after coming through three qualifying rounds, the German had seemingly ran out of gas and could not capitalise after taking a one set lead.
As a past winner in 2009, he was given a wildcard to the Wimbledon warm-up in Halle. Noone would have predicted what would happen next as seeds Tomas Berdych, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Marcel Granollers were defeated only dropping one set in the process. This earned him a tie with five time winner Federer in the final. In an astonishing 7-6 6-4 victory to seal his first title in three years and first win over Federer since 2006, he was broken just once. While the enormity of the victory was never in doubt, Federer took the Wimbledon title weeks later to prove just how high a standard Haas had been playing at.
Unfortunately Haas could not build on this and exited in the first round after an exceptionally tough draw where he took on eventual quarter finalist Philipp Kohlschreiber. Combined with his shock exit early in Stuttgart to a player ranked outside the top 200, it would seem like his purple patch had ended but he bounced right back the next week in Hamburg. Three top 25 players in Gilles Simon, Florian Mayer and Marin Cilic were defeated in succession to make the final again. Sadly, Juan Monaco had too much for him and was defeated in straight sets.
Fired up by his Olympics snub, Haas headed to Washington D.C last week and showed no signs of emotional fatigue making the third final in his last five tournaments but again fell at the final hurdle. This time Alexandr Dolgopolov was the villain, taking advantage of an error prone Haas late to come back from a set deficit to defeat Haas 6-7 6-4 6-1.
With very little to defend late in the year, it is possible that Haas could make the top 15 at 34 years old. For someone who was ranked outside the top 500 this time last year, it is an exceptional feat and the German is a potential dark horse, fitness permitting, to shock at the US Open. In my view he is playing top 20 level tennis and deserves the success he is currently having.
Haas scraped past David Nalbandian in the first round in Toronto today and will be hoping for a repeat of his Hamburg encounter in the second round as he takes on Gilles Simon.