the legend

joyful rogger fedder

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Preview: Djokovic v Haas

Photo Titled Djokovic pumping his fist
Djokovic pumping his fist

The first of today's quarter-finals on No.1 Court provides a fascinating contrast between the youngest and oldest players left in the men's draw. There is a nine-year difference between Germany's Tommy Haas, at 31 years three months, and Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who at 22 years and five weeks is one week younger than Andy Murray.

However, it is the younger man who has been more successful at Grand Slam level, having won the Australian Open in 2008, while Haas's best showing was also in Australia, with three semi-final appearances in 1999, 2002 and 2007.

At Wimbledon two years ago, Djokovic lost in the semi-finals to Rafael Nadal, but he suffered a reaction last year, going out in the second round to Marat Safin.

In his 11th year of playing Wimbledon, Haas has finally reached the quarter-finals for the first time, though he was looking good two years ago until tearing a stomach muscle in reaching the round of 16. It is Haas who is in the best grass court form at the moment, though it is only marginal, having won the Halle title in his native Germany three weeks ago by defeating Djokovic in the final. Of Haas's 12 titles, it was the first to be won on grass.

Haas's fortunes at the 2009 Championships have mirrored the up-and-down fortunes of his 13-year-professional career, since he has been involved in the longest singles match at this year's Wimbledon, four hours 28 minutes, in which he saved two match points before putting out the 11th seed, Marin Cilic, and the shortest, when his opponent Michael Llodra retired injured after seven games.

Haas knows all about injury, having missed the entire 2003 season because of a shoulder operation and then facing further surgery on the shoulder in November 2007. He also broke his right ankle in December 1995 and exactly 12 months later broke the left one.

On the good fortune side, Haas, who is ranked 34 in the world, was elevated to 24th seed for this tournament when Gael Monfils withdrew with a damaged wrist. Should he get to the semi-finals, Haas could return to the top 20 for the first time in 18 months.

Haas learned his tennis at the Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and liked the set-up so much that he now makes his home in the town. He is hoping to emulate Rainer Schuettler, who was a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year, the third German to get that far in the Open era after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

Djokovic is also hoping for the ranking boost that further Wimbledon success would bring, having been ranked third in the world for the best part of two years until he was replaced by Murray in May this year.

However, Djokovic would need to win the title to regain the number three spot, with Murray failing to get to the final. Until a month ago, he tended to regard Germans as his favourite opposition, having beaten them 14 straight times until his third round loss at Roland Garros to Philipp Kohlschreiber was followed by that defeat against Haas in Halle.

No comments:

Post a Comment