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September 7, 2004

Tommy Haas


THE MODERATOR: First question.

Q. You were playing obviously very well. Can you take us a little bit through your surgeries and if there was a time where maybe you thought to yourself, "I'm not ever going to be back at the top of tennis"?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, I've probably said it a couple of times now. I'll go through it again. You know, any time you have a serious surgery like this, I guess, you don't know how long it takes to come back. Then I had another one. Probably a year ago from now, I was sitting at home, watching the US Open on the couch, not knowing if I was going to come back or ever be able to play on a high level again. And, you know, now I'm here in the quarters of one of the biggest tournaments in the year. So was a big struggle, took a long time to get back to, you know, to play. And, you know, throughout this whole year, I'm actually just very pleased that I can play and that I have played on some high level, and that the shoulder is holding up. That's still the main thing. So it's been a great, great fun so far.

Q. Is this the best you've played since before your injury?

TOMMY HAAS: I've had some highlights in between. I mean, already in April I had a great week in Houston where I won the tournament against Andy in the final. And, you know, in between I had some great matches as well. Then LA, beating Andre, was one of the best matches I've played all my life, I think. Then I lost a couple tight once again, but continued to play on a high level and tinge to do that throughout the US Open so far I'm very pleased.

Q. What are you expecting from Lleyton Hewitt?

TOMMY HAAS: We've had some great battles, you know, throughout our careers so far. And, you know, if I'm playing some high tennis that I have been playing in the last couple of matches and weeks, you know. Obviously he's been playing some great tennis, winning Washington, Long Island, playing some great tennis here. We're going to have some good rallies, some great points. I think it's going to come down to who wins the big points in that. It should be some good tennis to watch.

Q. You seem to be comfortable on the surface. People seem to like you?

TOMMY HAAS: It's great. Any time you play with a crowd behind you a little bit, it makes it so much more fun, obviously. I haven't played against an American yet, obviously, so that helps. But, you know, I think I played some nice tennis for the crowd to enjoy, to come out and watch. And I'm always, you know, thankful to have the fans come and support me.

Q. Are you free of pain or stiffness in the shoulder now?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, so far, so good. I mean, you know, even the last game I think proved it again. I think I served couple aces there, you know, in the high 20s. You know, feels great. So hopefully I'll just continue like this. I'm still going to have to watch out for it, continue to do my rehab, need the time off for it once in a while. But overall it's been great.

Q. In the first set he was pushing you all the way to the back. How did you defend those shots?

TOMMY HAAS: How did I defend all the shots? Well, I mean, first time I played against Tomas Berdych. Obviously, I've heard a lot about him. He plays huge from the baseline, has a big first serve. I think if you're too close on the baseline, I think that wouldn't be the right game plan for me at that time. Once in a while you can do that, I think, but I think he would have overpowered me. And I think it was crucial, I think, the first set that it was pretty tight, few breaks back and forth, trying to taste each other's game out a little bit. 6-3 in the breaker I was just trying to hold my two serves, see what happens. Luckily I hung in there. He got a little tight. I won the first set.

Q. Besides power, what does he do well?

TOMMY HAAS: He hits the ball very flat as well. He puts the ball in the right spots. You have to play some great defense against him in order to give yourself a chance to get the shot that you're looking for, obviously, win some points. Obviously when he's hitting the ball really well, he's going for it, you know, you're not going to get to all the balls all the time. But I just figured that I felt pretty comfortable from way back in the baseline, trying to wait for my chances. You know, if he was going to hit winner after winner, that's just going to be too good. But just thought I had a pretty good game plan against him.

Q. Top 10 potential?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, I think so. I mean, he's still very young, obviously. He's just tasting every tournament out a little bit and stuff. Everybody's going to get to feel his power pretty soon. So I think he definitely has some Top 10 potential in the future.

Q. What's the challenges that Lleyton brings when you play against him?

TOMMY HAAS: Well, first of all, we all know that he's probably one of the best competitors out there, that fights for every point. Makes you play. That's, you know, the main key. He's not going to beat himself. So any time you play against him, you know you gonna have to also try and focus on your game more than on his game - and that is to be patient and wait for the opportunities and, you know... Like I said, you know, he's playing with a lot of confidence right now, too, so it's going to be tough.

Q. Lleyton said you're a Top 5 player regardless of your ranking. You say you're playing pain-free and played one of the best matches of your life against Agassi. Does that mean you're back as good as you ever were?

TOMMY HAAS: Probably. I never reached the quarters here before. I'm playing some great quality tennis right now, obviously. Like I said before me and Lleyton had some great battles. We always seem to have great matches. I think it's going to be another good one.

Q. When you played him in the past, when he's won, what has he done that you haven't been able to counter?

TOMMY HAAS: Well, he doesn't go away. You know, you have to finish every point. Even when you're up, you know, he's going to come back and keep grinding. You know, that's what makes him so dangerous and so good. He's probably one of the best counterpunchers out there. Like I said, improved his serve a lot as well. So, you know, I have to see how it goes once we're out on the court.

End of FastScripts….

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