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March 16, 2004

Tommy Haas


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tommy.

Q. Got to be one of those good news, bad news kind of deals. You lost, but to come this far you have to feel pretty good, too.

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, definitely. If I look back through the whole week, coming out in this tournament, it's definitely a great result for me. Very happy I made it this far. I played four matches here. Couldn't have asked for more. At the same time, right now obviously I'm still a little bit disappointed, you know, of losing. But, you know, I just played a better player today.

Q. Where are you in terms of the shoulder being strong and getting over it not only physically but mentally? Are you still in the beginning stages of getting back and playing? Can you talk about where you are?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, every day it's kind of, you know, for me I return back to the tour. Every match, like I said, that I play, is kind of a way back for me to see where I'm at. Obviously, today was not a good step to see, you know, against a player like Chela, where I'm at, what I need to work on, stuff like this. But it's definitely a new experience as well for my shoulder to play four matches in five, six days, you know, tough, hard matches. Shoulder's holding up pretty good. I would be lying if I didn't say it's a little bit tired. It's going to be helpful to get a couple days rest here and see how it goes next tournament.

Q. Can you talk about the rehab part of it, the physical blood, sweat and tears of getting that shoulder strong again?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, it's a long road. It's a very long, marred road. You have to be really patient. Patience isn't really one of my strengths. I had to work on that a lot as well. Being away 15, 16 months from the sport, not being able to play match, not being able to do what you want to do, it's really hard. If I look back where my arm was a year ago and where it is today, it's great. So I still got to keep up the rehab, though. I got to keep doing the strength. You know, there's always going to be something, a little aching here and there. That's just something I have to work with. You know, some of the guys might have a little bit of an edge against me now because they have a healthy shoulder and I have a little bit of a shoulder that's vulnerable. That's just part of it, and I have to get through with it.

Q. You would put yourself 80, 90% with that being fully healed?

TOMMY HAAS: To be honest, if you have two surgery, I wonder if it's ever going to be a hundred percent. I really don't think about it too much once I'm out on the court, just besides winning and playing my best tennis. You know, it feels fine to me.

Q. How did your shoulder injury develop? Was it over a period of time or from one specific incident?

TOMMY HAAS: Unfortunately, it was over a period of time. It started already beginning of 2002. I played basically with the shoulder the whole year, you know, took a couple MRIs here and there. They told me to take a couple of weeks off. Supraspinatus was inflamed, blah blah blah. Finally in December when I started practicing again to get ready for 2003, I was serving, heard a little pop in the shoulder. I just basically yelled at everybody and flew up to a specialist in New York, took an MRI, just told me that my subscapular tendon was 95% torn. That was basically surgery time.

Q. Do you think you could have done anything better today?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, you look back and you always think you can probably do something better. I tried to actually come in a little bit, take the ball a little bit early, try to come into the net. But I really wasn't that comfortable with it throughout the whole time I was playing here. Actually, I didn't do that as much against Albert Costa, as well. Plus he counter-punched really well the whole time. Maybe just be a little bit more patient, maybe think about coming in at the right time. I was probably a little bit hectic at some points. Like I said, he was, you know -- didn't make any easy mistakes, played really solid, got all the balls back. All credit to him.

Q. Do you think it's match practice that's missing now?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, sure. It definitely will help if I play, you know, three, four months of tournaments again, and then, you know, getting used to playing those guys, knowing what to do at the right time. But like I said, I'm really happy, thankful I was able to play four matches here, play some good tennis, see that, you know, I can compete with these guys, that I don't have to be, you know, worrying about playing them the next couple weeks.

Q. Going back to your injury, have you had to change the rhythm of your service motion or relearn it, rebuild it from the time after the rehab? San Jose to here, your serves are getting faster each match that you play.

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, certainly when I started serving again, there was times when I didn't serve probably three or four months' period of time. So, you know, it was basically I think the shoulder was doing what felt comfortable to the shoulder, even though I was feeling like -- I didn't really feel that serve at all. I'm sure the motion was a little bit different. Right now it feels like it's getting back to where it used to be. Obviously in San Jose, Memphis, I barely got over 110 miles an hour. That was just a start and see where I was at, which was really good to see. But since then I've been doing little different things strength-wise, and I think the shoulder and the service is getting back to where it used to be.

End of FastScripts….

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