The periods of time during Tommy Haas’s star-crossed career during which he didn’t play any tennis are nearly too numerous to mention.
But let’s have a go at it, shall we?
2000: Hip injury, bulging disc (only played two tourneys in the three-month period between Wimbledon and the Sydney Olympics – 36-22 record)
2001: Sprained left foot (57-21 record, four titles)
2002: right elbow, shoulder, and his folks had a serious motorcycle accident. (45-21 record – only one match between the French Open and Rogers Cup, a two-month stretch. Rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder in December)
2003: Had a second operation on the right shoulder in July. Missed the entire season.
2004 — Returned to action in February, and lost his first match in six of his first 10 events back. Ended up 37-22 with two titles.
2005: Stepped on a ball and sprained his ankle at Wimbledon, in the warmup before his first-round match against Janko Tipsarevic. Missed more than a month. Posted a 33-24 record.
2006: Suffered a right wrist injury, but played a full season without any breaks. (ended up 49-21, with three titles)
2007: Played just two matches from Houston in early April to Wimbledon in late June. Tore a stomach muscle at Wimbledon, but played through it. Had shoulder surgery in November. (finished 39-17, with one title)
2008: Gave Roger Federer a walkover at Indian Wells because of a sinus infection, retired in Monte Carlo, missed the French Open and returned at Wimbledon. Lost in the second round at the U.S. Open and didn’t play the rest of the season. A record of 18-14 overall.
2009: Played a relatively regular, balanced schedule for the first in awhile, reaching the semis at Wimbledon. Went 31-17 with one title.
2010: Played four tourneys to start the season but had hip surgery in February. And then had right elbow surgery a month later. Record of 3-4.
2011: Came back at the French Open, and lost in the first (seven times) or second round (twice) in his first nine events. Finished 7-12 on the season.
2012: Started the year outside the top 200, and played the qualies at the French Open (and reached the third round). He ended up ranked No. 20, the oldest player in the top 50 and the ATP Comeback player of the year.
2013: A lovely NORMAL season, with a full schedule, a 47-21 record, two titles and a No. 12 ranking. It was just the calm before yet another storm.
2014: The shoulder was done again. There were early hints at the Australian Open when we spotted him on the practice courts – wearing that lovely new Ellesse stuff.
So far this year, Haas was due to return at Indian Wells – he even showed up and practiced. Then he stood up Milos Raonic for a hit, and that was it.
Finally, he’s back in Stuttgart. It’s probably no coincidence that it’s at home, that the tournament director has Haas as one of his clients and that it’s the first year as a grass-court event.
He defeated Mikhail Kukushkin, a very capable player, 6-4, 7-5 even though he wasn’t serving nearly where he wanted to be. He said his arm was heavy, and pretty sore. But there was no pain in the shoulder even though his power wasn’t there.
“There’s times when you’ve been away for a long time and you have a family, you don’t miss it that much. But the competitive side, The nerves and emotions I had before a match like this, I’ve haven’t had it for 55 weeks,” he said during an on-court interview with Barbara Schett. “You’re going to the toilet before the match and your mind is going all over the place.”
But hey, FINALLY, he gets to wear those sweet Ellesse duds on court – hopefully for an extended period – after finally getting a decent clothing sponsorship. (From what we know of the uber-tight white rules at Wimbledon, this sweet white ensemble might get flagged for code violations; enjoy it while you can).
Haas was No. 2 in the world, handsome as you’d like, fluent in several languages, and he couldn’t buy a clothing deal for love of money. Finally gets one? Barely plays since. Pretty much sums up his star-crossed career.
But, at 37, he might have a few moments left in him. Let’s hope they’re pain-free, and that he at least enjoys them.
(Injury and absence information from Haas’s ATP Tour results page; images from TennisTV)