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May 11, 2002

Tommy Haas



Q. Congratulations. You must be very satisfied. Have you ever played so consistently well on clay?

TOMMY HAAS: I don't think that long, that consistently. Obviously, it's my best week on clay. I'm reaching a Tennis Masters Series finals. So one of the best weeks so far that I've been playing. I think I have been playing some good tennis in the past on clay. But, like you said, never that consistent. You know, reached the quarterfinals here and there, you know. I'm very satisfied.

Q. The only time we had one American and one German in the final was Sampras-Becker in '94.

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah. That's nice.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TOMMY HAAS: That's right. And Becker got a good beating. So hopefully that will change tomorrow (smiling).

Q. Why do you play so well on clay? You seem to move very well on clay. You seem to be very focused.

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, I mean, I think if you get past the first couple rounds and you start moving pretty well on the clay court and, you know, if you get some confidence, you know - obviously, it's always about confidence, feeling good about yourself when you go out on the court. That's what happened to me in the past. I already started playing some good tennis last week in Munich. Unfortunately, I had to default in the quarters with a back injury. And, luckily, I have some great doctors back home in Munich that took care of me. And I thank them. Otherwise, I would not be in this position that I am in right now. And I think, like I said, confidence is a big boost. And, you know, moving well, winning the big points. And it's just so far a great week.

Q. What was the back injury?

TOMMY HAAS: It was an injury that I've had in the past, a couple of years ago. My vertebrae and my rib kind of come out of place. Then my muscle spasms, you know, and give me not an opportunity to breathe right and to move left-right. So it's something that's been bothering me in the past. I haven't actually had it in a long time. I have to do a lot of muscle strength for my back, which I am trying to do more and more. So... Unfortunately, it came back last week.

Q. These doctors solve it?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, you know, chiropractors and, you know, couple of shots here and there trying to settle the muscles down. So, you know... But now everything is good. So I'm trying to keep the strength up and, you know, doing my rehab. So hopefully it won't come back.

Q. You've beaten Andre twice in the three matches you had against him. He's looking very sharp here this week. What do you feel will be your strengths tomorrow against him?

TOMMY HAAS: Well, you know, he's been playing some unbelievable tennis the last couple years. You know, he looks fitter than ever, more dedicated to the game. I've been watching him play the last couple of matches and it's always something you can learn from him when you watch him. So, you know, it's great the way he's been playing, you know, really aggressive. Obviously I know he's going to go for his shots, he stands close to the baseline, has a great kick serve. So I'm going to have to try to change up a lot of things, try to play my game as well and just see what happens tomorrow.

Q. To play best-of-five against Agassi is better or worse in your opinion?

TOMMY HAAS: I answer that tomorrow after the match (smiling).

Q. (Inaudible)?

TOMMY HAAS: No, I practiced with him a couple times, actually, when I was 13, 14 years old. He hit with me a couple times, and those were a couple of my greatest moments at that age for me. Actually, still have pictures and everything. So it was quite entertaining for me. It was fun.

Q. How would you classify yourself, a German-Floridian?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, you could say so. I mean, obviously in my heart I'm German - always will be. And I like where I live in Florida, you know. When I have a couple of weeks off, it's a very nice, relaxing place for me. And, you know, I like lots of parts in this world.

Q. What is exactly your position on the Davis Cup team in Germany? We've heard many things about it.

TOMMY HAAS: Well, you know, it's always been an honor for me to play Davis Cup. I used to remember the greatest matches -- actually, my first match that I saw live was in '85 in Hamburg - Germany against United States. You know, it's just sad a little bit that I think the German Tennis Federation is not paying enough attention to our players, including myself. They've been promising things to us - and to me lately - and always in last minute they take it away. And I think this was just the first time, the beginning of this year, that I had to make a point of view for my sake and say "not with me anymore" until they don't change stuff, you know. I felt a little bit used. So it's not fun to be on a team where you have people working for you or people trying to help you that you don't really like, and they always telling you things and promising you things and never anything happens. So it was part for me to step up and say, "Okay, I'm not playing," and, you know, kind of show my teammates that maybe hopefully we can change the future. And we're supposed to have a meeting tomorrow that I'm going to miss now, which is nice. But maybe they can tell me what happened, what was the meeting about, and hopefully we come to a new step with the German federation.

Q. Are these financial difficulties or conditions of play?

TOMMY HAAS: Pretty much everything. I mean, actually it's the first time, last week in Munich, that Michael Stich came up to me and asked me what surface I want to play on and what balls I like, indoors or outdoors, for the relegation match against Venezuela which is going to be in Germany. It's the first time I've been asked, and I've been playing for four years, which is a new step. I asked the German Tennis Federation last year if they wanted to help me, because I'm looking for a physical therapist that's going to travel with me full-time since I've had some problems in the past, to keep me fit and going. Because if you want to stay in the Top 10, I think you got to do everything for your body as well to perform well. And all I asked for was a little bit of help from the German Tennis Federation. And they promised me, yes, they would help me. They were going to give me a little amount - which, was totally fine with it. Last minute, they said, "Actually, we're not going to do anything for anybody," and we can't do anything because they said -- maybe they are bankrupt right now because they lost a lot of money with whatever - I don't know, I'm not involved in that stuff. So, you know, was just another promise that kind of faded away, and I just said, "That's okay."

Q. Something similar happened also in Italy to the Italian players, and some of them were disqualified after from the Federation, Italian Federation, because they didn't play. Did they ever say something to you like that, that you would be disqualified or fined or something?

TOMMY HAAS: Actually, when I was playing the Australian Open this mess started to happening. And our team chief - or whatever you call it - from the DTP, he threatened me to throw me out of the German Tennis Federation as well. So he didn't do it, which might have been better if he would have done it. It was a big thing in Germany that I didn't play because the guy kind of put me in the position saying that I only play if I get the money. And that was not the point. So, you know, obviously it kind of came over wrong to the people. And, you know, I'm sorry for that. But it's a lot of things people shouldn't know and it shouldn't be talked about in public. It's something between the players and the agents and the Federation to get a better team and a better thing going. So it was a mess. But it's over now, so...

Q. So you will play in the relegation?

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, so far. We don't have any worries. The DTP President came up to me after in Munich and said -- you know, he apologized for the things that happened in the past, and they're going to figure out a way to do something, you know. It's a pity that, you know, after Becker, Stich and Graf that it came to this point after a few years that the German Tennis Federation is "bankrupt," as they say. You know, I don't -- whatever happens, happens. But, you know, maybe there's some people that maybe can change a few things and then everything should be fine.

Q. Can you just talk about the final tomorrow.

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, I'm very happy to, first of all, be in the final against Andre who's one of the greatest players, I think, in my eyes. And, you know, I think it's something special to be in a final always when you go to a Tennis Masters Series final. And I'm going to give everything out there tomorrow and hopefully I can catch a good start, and we'll see what happens.

Q. The two times you beat Agassi, what did you do particularly well?

TOMMY HAAS: I mean, one time I played him in Wimbledon. Was the first time I played on Centre Court. I think it was '98. And that was a time when he didn't have his best years. And, you know, I played probably one of my bestest match. I was very lucky to beat him there. The other time was in COMPAQ Grand Slam Cup where I played at home in Munich. I just had a pretty good run there in '99, reached the Top 10 for the first time. It was a tight match there. And the other times, you know, he played pretty unbelievable so I didn't have much of a chance. I think it depends also a little bit on how he plays, if he's very consistent and, you know, makes every ball, it's going to be very tough. I'm going to have to run down a lot of balls and play really well. And I have to try a few different things, I have to see what happens tomorrow once the match starts, what to do. So...

Q. Have you ever played back so far to receive serve?

TOMMY HAAS: Not really. I mean, yeah...

Q. It was almost the first row of the grandstand.

TOMMY HAAS: Yeah. No, actually, I think three or four weeks ago when I played him in Monte-Carlo, the surface is extremely big. And if it hits the corners, I don't see how you can return the serve if you're standing too far by the baseline. So, you know, I think standing back you have more of a chance to get the ball back and try to do the best from there.

End of FastScripts….

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