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March 24, 1997

Tommy Haas

Key Biscayne, FL

JOE LYNCH: We'll start with questions in German, the youngest player in the field at 18 years old.

(Interview in German.)

JOE LYNCH: Questions in English.

Q. Pretty good lesson out there?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, it was a very good experience here for me to play. You know, it was my first tournament since a very long time. I mean, I played Scottsdale and Palm Springs, now this one. I was out for two or three months, so I'm very glad how I played here, you know, winning against Guy Forget and Javier Sanchez, and Thomas Muster. It was a good experience. I have to say it was a bit to play against him for the first time. But, yeah, it was great.

Q. Why is it tough to play against him?

TOMMY HAAS: Because he runs every ball down. You try to really hit too much, to go for it, hit forehands too big or something, then you make easy mistakes. He just grinds you down. He doesn't make any mistakes. It's really tough to play against him. I was a little bit tired, you know, because I haven't had tournament experience. So I played a tough two first round matches. It was great.

Q. Did you stay back a little too much for your liking? Was he keeping you back?

TOMMY HAAS: He was keeping me back. He has a lot of spin so it's really tough to try to do something with it. If you come in, he really passes pretty well. You know, you don't want to come in on a bad shot, so you're going to try to hit too good, then you make a mistake. Once in a while when I came in, I played pretty well.

Q. Is that something you like, if you thought back over it, that you would like to do, come in a little more?

TOMMY HAAS: Sure, that's something I would have to work on a little bit, yes.

Q. You had your ankle taped at 5-2.

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah. I had surgery at the end of December last year. So I just wanted to tape it at the end because I kind of felt a little bit shaky and I didn't want anything to happen.

Q. Muster made a joke, that it was Nick's idea to tape it. With the rain coming.

TOMMY HAAS: Maybe it was a bit of a game plan for myself, hoping it was going to rain so can I take a little break and think maybe how to play different. But it didn't rain. It has a little to do something with my ankle, also.

Q. Did Nick give you some kind of little signal for that?

TOMMY HAAS: He didn't give me a signal, no, but I'm sure he was thinking about the same thing maybe. It was a good idea.

Q. Do you feel like Muster doesn't get enough respect for his hardcourt play?

TOMMY HAAS: I don't think even he worries what people say about his hardcourt play. You know, I think he's achieved almost everything that he wanted to achieve, No. 1 in the world, Grand Slam tournament. Even on hardcourt, he played well, semifinals of Palm Springs. His hardcourt play is almost as good as his claycourt play. I respect his hardcourt, claycourt and even grass court.

Q. Is your career going on schedule, the way you want it to go so far?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, that's for sure. I had a tough break with my ankle again because I had it a year ago with my right ankle. Just a couple months ago my left ankle. I'm glad I only have two feet (laughter). Hopefully now I won't have any injuries anymore and everything is going to go as planned.

Q. Nick says you won't be going anywhere in December, he's going to keep an eye on you?

TOMMY HAAS: Going to make sure I'm not going to Germany. Send my parents to Florida, wherever I'm going to be. No more Germany for Christmas time.

Q. You've been in Florida with Nick since you were 11 or 12?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, 12, 13. Five and a half years, six years almost.

Q. Not everybody stays with him for that long. Some do, a lot don't.

TOMMY HAAS: Some get along better than others.

Q. Why has it worked for you and him?

TOMMY HAAS: If you look at my results, everything has been going really good.

Q. I know. I'm say, why do you think it's worked out?

TOMMY HAAS: Great communication, player and coach. If everything is going fine, right now I'm staying with him at his house and everything. He's almost like a second father to me anyway, because he kind of took over when I came to the academy when I was a young kid. He always looked over for me, great communication.

Q. He's still in that giant condo that he's made into a massive place?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, sure. I have a little place in the back so it's really nice.

Q. So do you make sure that he lets -- that you let him beat you in golf to make sure the relationship stays like this?

TOMMY HAAS: No. Actually if I have the opportunity to beat him in golf, I'm going to take it. If I have the opportunity to beat him in golf, I'll take it, so he has to practice. Usually, no, I don't play so much as him. He's actually pretty good. It's kind of tough to beat him in golf.

Q. Do you follow what Anna does? Do you keep an eye on her, since you guys are kind of in the same situation there?

TOMMY HAAS: Sure. I watch sometimes a few points when she plays her matches. I wish her good luck. I don't really have so much time when I'm playing tournaments myself to really get into it too much. She's doing well, so that's probably all.

Q. What's it like really playing against Muster? Is it like playing against a wall?

TOMMY HAAS: Basically, it is. I think you have to play him a couple more times before you really -- to get a plan, to know how to play him and beat him. It was my first time, in the big tournament, always a little nervous. Maybe I didn't play really, really great right at the beginning. My timing took a while to get into it and stuff. I'm sure I'm going have the opportunity to play him again, play him maybe a little differently, more relaxed. It was a great experience here. Like I said, it was a great tournament for now. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

Q. When you're practicing at Nick's, who do you play against when you get a chance? Somebody like Marcelo?

TOMMY HAAS: Sure, there's always great players around the academy. Marcelo Rios, Korda, Martin Damm, a lot of the Czech players, other players from the academy go there. A lot of opportunities play with professional tennis players.

JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Tommy? Thank you.


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