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January 17, 2017

Tommy Haas

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

B. PAIRE/T. Haas

7-6, 6-4 (ret.)

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you talk about today's match, playing the first match after a long time.
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, I mean, a lot of emotions, mixed emotions obviously. Happy to be back out there. Wasn't easy, I think, mentally and physically to be back after such a long time.

But, again, obviously was one of my goals to try to play here one last time. Very happy about it. Very proud of myself for trying to make that happen after the foot surgery back in the middle of April, to be able to play here.

Throughout the match I thought at times I was playing some good tennis, but just not as free as I would like it to be. Practicing and playing when it counts is such a big difference. I need lots more matches to come.

Q. What was the reason for the retirement?
TOMMY HAAS: You know, I felt like physically I was empty. I didn't have anything left in the tank, to be quite honest. I don't think I've ever experienced it that way before in my career playing any matches. And it didn't feel good. You know, I just felt shortness of breath. Couldn't really focus. That's not a good thing.

Q. What makes you keep coming back, making the comebacks, despite so many injuries at this age particularly?
TOMMY HAAS: So many reasons. I mean, I don't have all night to discuss those.

But, you know, like I said before, I'd like to finish on my own terms. That's very important to me as a professional tennis player. Also trying to play this event one more time was important 'cause this was, you know, one of my best slams. I've done really well here in the past. I've always loved coming to this tournament.

Yeah, that's really it. I mean, you know, I have a six-year-old daughter now who I would love to see sit in my box the next few months and watch her daddy play and realize what I'm doing and really remember that for the rest of her life. That's another big motivation for me.

But mainly for myself, you know, it's been an unlucky last three years again with shoulder surgery and foot surgery. It's a surgery, so that means you don't play for three, four months at a time, play sports. I'm not getting any younger, so trying to get back to a certain shape and playing shape, you know, playing tournaments, it's going to take a long time and it's going to take probably more digging, you know, sacrifice than ever. It's going to be a big challenge. We'll see what happens.

Q. Easier for you in best-of-three tournaments? Is that fair to say?
TOMMY HAAS: Probably will. If you look at it in the big picture, maybe it's not the smartest way to make a comeback, play a Grand Slam. But Grand Slams are Grand Slams, and the Australian Open 2018 seems very, very far away for me. I don't think that's going to happen anymore. That's another reason why I wanted to be here. I'm glad I did it. I don't regret one second of it.

But, yes, best-of-three will hopefully be a little bit easier. But there's still a lot of work to do, to get fit, just try to play more. But at the same time, you know, you want to do it the right way and play the events when you're actually feeling good about it.

Q. What is your schedule after this? Maybe you have to prepare for Indian Wells as the tournament director.
TOMMY HAAS: I think everybody has been kind of asking me about that now. To clear the air a little bit, I won't be playing in Indian Wells. As a tournament director, you're not allowed to play in the event. We can take that off the table.

So, I don't know, I entered in Delray Beach. Might be a small chance I play the week before in Memphis. I've had good results there. Maybe play there. Maybe play some qualifying somewhere. I'm not sure yet. I'm just going to take it week by week, try to get back also in the gym some more and try to get back in some better shape, let this tournament kind of pass over and look ahead at what's to come.

Q. You've said pretty clearly this will be your last Australian Open. Does it feel like a more clear farewell tour mode that you're in now, something you're at peace with?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I don't like to talk about it too much, every tournament this might be my last time. It's really just for me. I think really that's all it is. When you played on tour for such a long time, you have great memories, a lot of nice events you played throughout the years many, many times. You kind of go back there, including this one, you know, it's a nice feeling to have that.

I could have easily decided couple of times that I probably won't come back at all and not do this to me, trying to get back into playing shape. I have a certain level I'd like to play to, as well, obviously. This is not just about trying to get back on court, going left and right, not really having a chance to win. I'm still very competitive. I like to see what else I can still achieve.

But it's getting tougher and tougher. Game's getting stronger and stronger. The guys are getting more physical. It's a big, big challenge. But mainly for me, yes, this will most likely be, every event that I play, my last one.

Q. The game is going through some changes with the new players coming in. Are you able to put yourself, what you have achieved, in perspective?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, I try to. I mean, as a competitor, still as a player right now, you kind of always just look what's next, prepare yourself for that, try to play to your best ability.

I'm aware of what I've achieved. I'm aware that I've been playing for a long time. I'm really thankful for it. I wouldn't change one -- yeah, I probably would change a few things. When you're a kid and you dream about becoming a tennis professional, you're living your dream, I'm still sort of doing it right before my 39th birthday, it's an honor, it's great.

So many guys in the locker room that have been such class acts. It's nice to be around them. Some of them have been around longer. It's nice now to see the younger generation, see what they're going through. Being involved in tennis is a privilege for me.

Q. Given what the big four players have achieved in terms of the number of trophies they have won, what would you say is the next generation's challenge?
TOMMY HAAS: Well, there lies a big challenge ahead. What these top four players have achieved, you know, especially two or three of them, is absolutely incredible. It's been very, very much fun to kind of see it happening.

At the same time, sometimes when you're playing against them, maybe not as much fun. But the dedication, the athleticism, the way they play, how in the zone they can get, it's truly phenomenal. They have so much respect from everybody, including I think this whole room here. So it's a pleasure to watch.

But, you know, I think the younger generation, there's some talent out there that has a good chance in the next year or two to really do some damage and get far, especially as some of the top four guys are also heading into an age where it's not so easy to recover anymore.

They're still going to, in my eyes, dominate quite a bit to come.

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