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January 24, 2007

Tommy Haas



Q. Apart from the win, what pleased you most about the match?
TOMMY HAAS: The way I was playing I guess in the sets that I won. I mean, you know, I knew it was going to be a tough match going in. I had a lot of -- I wanted the revenge badly from after the US Open quarterfinal match I lost against him because those kind of matches now for me mean a lot more than maybe, you know, eight, nine years ago.
It hurt me a lot there for a couple days after the US Open. Being in the fifth set down a break, I kind of remembered that feeling. Just trying to hang tough, trying to make him win the match. That's what makes me really proud. Then saving match point, as well. You know, it couldn't have been a better outcome for me.

Q. How is your form now compared with five years ago, last making the semifinal here?
TOMMY HAAS: I really don't know. Five years ago, in 2002 when I got to the semis, a couple months after that I reached my career high of No. 2. I was playing some really solid tennis there for a good year. But I don't know how I can compare it to now. I haven't watched any matches from back then and now.
But I think the game is getting stronger and better each year. So I guess I'm playing better than I have in the past.

Q. Will you watch this match now?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, a little bit. As soon as I'm done here, get a little bit of a stretch and massage, I'll go back and watch. I've been watching them anyway, the other matches as well, but I'll watch the match.

Q. At one stage you called for the trainer on your right thigh. What was the story?
TOMMY HAAS: Just got a little bit tight. Sometimes when you get a little bit tight -- you know, I was stretching out for a ball. Felt like it was tightening up a little bit. Sometimes a little bit of hot cream or loosening it up can do magic. I just thought it was important. It feels fine.

Q. You also seemed to have something irritating your eyes.
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, the cold breeze. Sometimes, I don't know, like my eyes don't do well with that. They just got really watery. I was asking to see if they had something to make that go away, which I knew was not going to happen. I guess with eye drops you can try to see if that happens.
I just don't have a good history with eye drops either. I just asked to have a little bit of small talk.

Q. Could you not see the ball when you were playing?
TOMMY HAAS: Just get watery, like I'm almost crying, a lot of water coming out of my eyes. Every time I'm trying to focus, closing my eyes a little bit. That kind of bothered me a little bit. With the shade coming through, I just felt at times I didn't see as sharp as I wanted to. Just asked to see if there's anything he can do.

Q. You were having quite a conversation with yourself at one point when it looked pretty grim. Nikolay said he thought you were going nuts. Were you going nuts?
TOMMY HAAS: Not nuts really. I thought I was playing really well the first set and a half, dictating play the way I wanted to play. I had a breakpoint at 2-All. I just made a forehand error that kind of bothered me. I lost that game.
The next game he came up with some good shots to go down Love-30. Then he returned two good balls. I lost the 4-2. Then I kind of just lost my head just a teeny bit. He kind of got into a groove.
That's then what starts happening. My eyes got watery. The shade started coming. So it was a few things that kept going into my head. There were pigeons flying around in the stadium. I was focusing on many other things as I sometimes can do.
Yeah, he was just getting better and better, and I just lost a little bit of my confidence and my concentration. The fourth set, the beginning was really important for me. Once I started playing well and got the break early, I felt like I was coming back to the way I played in the first set. Then I knew it was going to be a match.

Q. When was the last time you played a fifth set that well?
TOMMY HAAS: I played some good ones at the US Open actually. Before the US Open, though, I've had a lot of tough five-setters where I've lost, got unlucky at times. It's been a while before that that I actually won a few.
At the US Open I played a couple good ones. There was tiebreak at 6-All and I got two of them against Ginepri and Safin. Another one actually against Davydenko, which I lost 6-4 in the fifth. It was one point away. Same thing, same kind of result. I'm really happy that that didn't happen.

Q. Do you feel like you might have snuck under the radar a little bit so far in the tournament?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, it's good that way. Obviously I've been here around much more than other players. It's nice to see the younger players coming up and getting the attention, besides Roger obviously. That's totally fine. I can definitely live with that. I just go out there, mind my own business, trying to, you know, improve my game, play well, play tough.
If I do that, like I said, I think I still got a lot of good game in me. If I stay injury-free, I can enjoy this game for the next many more years hopefully, so be it. That's good.

Q. Can you use anything from the memories of the previous two semifinal appearances this time?
TOMMY HAAS: Another reason why I'm really happy today is now I finally beat a Russian in a big match here. I lost to Kafelnikov in the semis and to Marat in the semis in '99 and '02. If I would have lost the quarterfinal here against another Russian, it would have been really like never going back there again.
But, you know, it's tough. Like against Kafelnikov that one year, I think he was just playing incredible. Against Safin, the rain came in the beginning of the fourth set. I just went to the locker room for 20 minutes, laid down. That was totally the wrong call. Couldn't move any more after that.
Now we'll just see. I've got a little more experience obviously. I'm really happy, more experienced, more aware of the situation where I'm at. Now just see who is going to be my next opponent. Obviously it's not getting any easier. Just going to try my best. That's all I can do.

Q. What do you mean you laid down?
TOMMY HAAS: Laid down?

Q. You laid down in the locker room.
TOMMY HAAS: In '02, yeah. The rain came, obviously the Rod Laver roof closes, takes like 20 minutes. I was laying down just to kind of stay calm. After that I got up and I had no more legs left. That was a bad call.

Q. Do you feel like this result is a long time coming, given everything you've been through, this level of play?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, I mean, it's nice. In the Grand Slams, obviously it's where you want to do well. At the US Open, I mean, in the quarters against Davydenko, I had a good chance to get to the semis.
I didn't make it to play Roger in the semifinals there, which would have been an incredible feeling. That's why I also said it took me a couple days after that match to really -- actually weeks to recover from that.
A lot of things have happened in my career that many other players might not go through. I don't wish anybody two shoulder surgeries and being away for 15 months, not knowing exactly if you're going to come back or how your shoulder will feel. I don't think that's an easy task.
It happened to me while I was 24, 25 years old. If it would happen now at 28, 29, it might be a lot different. It happened to me not too, too bad of a time. You have to look at that as a positive, I guess. I'm just happy the way my shoulder's holding up. I'm enjoying the game. Just trying to improve.

Q. Your thoughts on your potential opponent in the semifinal.
TOMMY HAAS: Both are playing great tennis, especially these two weeks. Watched a couple of matches from both of them. Fernando obviously got a pretty nasty serve, the big forehand. He's moving well. Seems like he's trying to use the court much better now that he's been getting some good help from his new coach.
Obviously, Nadal, we don't have to talk much about him. He's a lefty. That makes him really dangerous. He fights like crazy and never gives up. He has a big, big forehand that you can really struggle with, lots of spin.
Both of these guys obviously are great players. Rafael Nadal already having so much experience, desire already, for such a young age is quite phenomenal.

Q. Last year, 2-All in the fifth with Roger, when you look back at that match, what do you think happened?
TOMMY HAAS: Well, it was a great match. I guess I was the only one that could push him to five sets here last year, which in the end of the day doesn't buy you anything, but makes you feel good, I guess. It was in the fourth round. I think I was playing also really good tennis here at the beginning last year to get to the fourth round, playing that match against him.
For a little bit of a while there I had a chance to beat him. At 3-2, just got that unfortunate break to go down 4-2. He played some good tennis, came up with a lot of winners at the right time. That's why he is where he is. There's not much you can really say about Roger's game and how he plays. We hear it all day and it's true.

Q. Nikolay said in his press conference he thought you had a good chance in the semifinal, but he also said you wouldn't be able to go away like you did for the second and third sets and have a chance to win in the semis.
TOMMY HAAS: Obviously, when you play against top players, maybe you get lucky like you did today every once in a while. In the end of the day, you can't allow yourself that to happen.
But it does make you feel good if it happens and you still come back and win. Gives you a lot of confidence. It's the beauty of best-of-five sets. You can allow yourself maybe a set or two to slip away that way. At the end of the day, obviously you don't want to that to happen. We'll have to see who my next opponent is. Then I really have to focus bit.
Obviously, I've played Rafa twice. It was tough. Had a few chances in Cincinnati I think in the first set, a couple set points. I really have to look at it and see how I have to play.
Same against González, also a tough player. Doesn't matter.

Q. If it is Rafa, did you watch Murray the other night?
TOMMY HAAS: Yeah, watched it a little bit. I think it was a good strategy the way he was playing. I think Murray is a little bit like me sometimes just losing his head, trying to focus too much what's going on around the game.
I think if he can get a clear head and really focus like a Nadal or somebody else, we obviously see what kind of potential he has to go to the top. Probably no question in my mind he'll be there pretty soon.
But it was a great match. Saw some great rallies. See the way that Rafa might not be too happy if you play him that way. At the same time also showed how tough that guy is mentally, that you really have to win the last point to beat him.

Q. Very emotional at the end of the match. Do you think it's a stronger feeling than the last time, last semifinal here?
TOMMY HAAS: It's one of my biggest matches that I won, for sure. In the quarterfinals, to save a match point, No. 3 player in the world, never beaten him before, coming back from a break down, match point down.
Obviously, you know, those are the moments you train for, you work for. So I let my emotions out obviously. It was a great, great feeling. Being here in the semifinals again, you know, eight years later, I mean, it's great.

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