August 28, 2000
Flushing Meadows, New York
Q. Is this how you want to start things off?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah. Obviously it's a good way to start off. My first match on hard court
this summer, I had been injured a little bit, so coming back against a qualifier, probably
a good start because I think he would have had some confidence already playing three
rounds, winning them. I don't know if he ever found his game today, but I'm trying to step
up playing my game, you know, trying to do my best. Obviously that rain delay kind of
helped me also because I can, you know, talk to my coach, see what I'm doing wrong, see
how I want to change, how I want to play. It worked pretty well.
Q. You had a good run here last year, fourth round.
TOMMY HAAS: Yes.
Q. Coming in this year, the performance last year, does it give you confidence? Do you
like this venue?
TOMMY HAAS: I like playing here obviously. It's one of my favorite Grand Slams. I enjoy
the people here that support me. I had a very good year last year playing against some
good people, beating them. Just try to do the same again this year hopefully.
Q. Do you feel good about your game right now?
TOMMY HAAS: I can't really tell so much. I practice now only for ten days, you know,
feel good. I don't have any pain in my back, so that's probably for me the most important
thing right now. Through my first match, I got through feeling pretty good. I think a few
things, a few areas I still need to improve and get back into it a little bit. The more
matches I play, the better I'm going to get.
Q. Considering how long it's been since you played a match on a hard court, were you a
little concerned about how well you would play?
TOMMY HAAS: Not concerned. I mean, you know, I just go out there and try to win. I
don't really think too much, "I'm playing well, I'm playing bad." Part of it I'm
having a good time also at the same time because I haven't played in a long time. Yeah,
I'm just going to enjoy it, you know, try to win.
Q. Who is coaching you now?
TOMMY HAAS: Raul Ordonez from the Bollettieri Academy.
Q. So you're affiliated with Nick?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah.
Q. Why did you change?
TOMMY HAAS: I think sometimes it's time to change coaches. I used to travel with Red
for three years on and off. We had a good season, we had good times. It just didn't work
anymore as I wanted it to.
Q. This Grand Slam, how do you think this compares to the others for you?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, I think it's one of the toughest obviously, going back and forth with
the traffic. Coming here this morning, I had the practice court at 9:30, left the hotel at
8:30, because of some, who knows, accident. You almost have to leave at 7:00, two hours
before, to make sure you get there on time. Obviously it's noisy with the airplanes and
stuff. For me, I don't know, it's excitement. I like coming back here to New York. It's a
great city. I think the crowd is one of the best, if not the best in tennis. They like
excitement. They like to go a little bit crazy. I like that. It's nice here.
Q. Your name often comes up when this new generation of men is talked about. Do you see
yourself as perhaps an heir apparent with Agassi, Sampras, the 30-year-olds, ancient men
getting into their twilight years? Do you see yourself as one of the top stars?
TOMMY HAAS: Maybe. Obviously my highest ranking was 10 in the world. I had a very good
year last year. I don't want to compare myself with anybody. Agassi and Sampras is a
different category for most of us. Like I said, a good year last year. A little bit of bad
luck with the hip injury this year, now this injury, lost some close matches where are I
needed to get through. I haven't had a great year. I think you learn from these things and
try to do the best. I think I can be, you know, one of the best in the world maybe one
day. I'm certainly going to try and maybe work harder in the future and try to get back
there where I think I can be. If that's going to take some time, let it be, because I
think I'm going to play my best tennis with 25, 26, so maybe three or four more years to
know which tournaments I've got to play, where I got to go and what I've got to do.
Q. How much time do you spend stretching your back before you go out on the court?
TOMMY HAAS: Well, you know, just much more than I used to. I mean, I'm sometimes a
little bit of a lazy person, don't watch out for my body too much. So, you know, it was a
little bit of a sign, I think, the back injury. So I make sure that I get stronger, fitter
and more flexible.
Q. As much as 10 or 15 minutes?
TOMMY HAAS: Maybe just a little bit longer than that.
Q. Really, 20?
TOMMY HAAS: (Nodding head.)
Q. Boring, isn't it?
TOMMY HAAS: It's part of the work.
Q. Do you feel a lot of pressure following in the shoes of Boris Becker and Stich back
at home? Do you think there's a big expectation for you to play well to fill their shoes?
TOMMY HAAS: Not at all. I think the only pressure that I have is that I give myself,
wanting to do well, wanting to go where I want to go. That's it. You can't fill anybody's
shoes. Boris Becker was one person. So was Michael Stich. I think Boris Becker is a tennis
God in Germany, and nobody will ever get near him. It would be stupid to try to compare me
to somebody like that. Obviously it would be nice for me to be as successful as he was or
whatever. But, like I said, I have my own goals, my own dreams, I try to follow them.
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.