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March 13, 2006

Tommy Haas


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tommy.
Q. How did that rank?
TOMMY HAAS: It's definitely up there. Any time you play Andre, for me it's a special feeling, you know, because if you look back, not long after I got to the academy when I was close to being 14 years old, I got to hit some balls with him. I looked up to him. It's always great playing him.
Beating him here on a high-level match in my eyes, it's good.
Q. Do you think Andre was on his game or do you think your game was really on?
TOMMY HAAS: Well, I've been thinking that I'm playing very solid tennis right now. Anybody that's going to come out to play me is going to have to play on a really high level to beat me, in my eyes. I thought he did that in the first set. We were hitting hard balls, cross-court, down the line, moving each other around, finishing it off with a couple dropshots here and there. I think he served better than me in the first set.
I should have been the one maybe going up a break before he did. But he got the better of me doing that. You know, serving at 5-3, 40-15. Probably should have won the first set. But didn't let go. You know, he came up with some loose shots, I came up with some good ones, I won the first set 7-5. That gave me some good confidence.
Q. You were looking very solid, and in your practice matches.
TOMMY HAAS: Practice matches, no, they don't really count. I don't rate them anywhere. But in the matches I've been playing, I've been feeling pretty good, yeah.
Q. In hindsight, what do you think of the match with Federer at the Australian Open?
TOMMY HAAS: I don't know. I'm not a person really that looks back. That was in January. We played a great match. Till 2-All in the fifth, I think it was pretty even. Obviously I thought I should have gotten the better of him in the first set. And I didn't use my chances. Then he jumped on top of me. And I was still thinking about that in the second. And once you run behind Roger, it's very tough to catch up. He just sometimes cruises on another level.
Then I got my first opportunity and I took it to go up a break in the third. Started playing some really solid tennis from there on. At 3-2 in the fifth, he broke me. I think he had 12 winners and three unforced errors in the fifth set. You're not going to look good against him when he plays like that.
Q. Have you ever felt better than you've felt so far this year?
TOMMY HAAS: That's tough to say. When I was playing some of my best tennis constantly, I got up to No. 2 in the world. But that's five years ago almost. It's tough. I think everybody improves almost every year. I feel like I'm improving. I feel still like I need to improve some other things in my game. That's what I'm trying to work on.
I'd be lying if I'd tell you I'm not feeling great right now. Winning two titles the last tournaments I've played, playing good tennis here, obviously I'm feeling kind of good.
Q. How much do you credit your new coach for your play right now, for your improved play?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, he's obviously given me something else than my other team in the past, with Nick and Red. Nick and Red are still two guys I talk to, that help me out when I'm at the academy. Thomas is a guy that we actually haven't gotten a chance to work that much yet, which is quite funny actually. We worked one week to 10 days right before Christmas really good. We're still trying to see what to improve and working on that. But we've been playing a lot of tournaments since.
But it's going well. He's helping me with things that I think I needed to hear. We'll see how it continues.
Q. When you look at the next three Grand Slams, which would be the best one most suited to your game? Probably not the French.
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, it's tough. I think it depends. At the French sometimes I feel pretty good depending on how the weather is there. It can play quite fast.
Wimbledon, I've had a lot of bad luck there the last many years that I've played. I never actually reached the fourth round. That's actually one of my goals, reach the fourth round once and maybe see what happens when I get there.
US Open, I've had some good matches, played some solid tennis there over the years.
I mean, I don't know, US Open is probably one of my favorite ones there. But I'd like to see if I'm in good shape.
The way I'm feeling right now, I think every one of those, it's going to be pretty tough to beat me. That's a good thing. If I can just stay healthy, it would be nice.
Q. What do you think was the key to today's victory?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, really I think it was a battle of good tennis the first set. I probably should have gotten an early break, but I didn't get it. He got it first. He probably should have won the first set serving at 5-3, 40-15. Somehow I hung in there. He made a few loose errors. I came back winning that first set 7-5.
I think that gave me some more momentum than him. I got an early break in the second. He broke me right back. I was kind of tight again. And then I came up with some great shots there to go ahead. That was probably the key at the end.
Q. After being injured last couple years and having some bad luck, do you feel this is the right time to step up? What is your goal for the season?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, I mean, I'd like to just continue the way it's been going. I'm feeling quite fit, good about my game, the way I'm doing things.
If I can just stay healthy, like I said before, I think I'm going to be a tough guy to beat out there. That alone gives me a lot of confidence going out in the matches. If I can continue just being healthy and playing good tennis, I think the rest will show.
Obviously I'd like for some good things to happen this year. I already won two titles, which is for me great. That's having the chance to lift up a trophy again, it's always a great feeling. Whatever happens, happens. But I'd really like to just stay healthy. That's really the most important thing for me.

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