Saturday October 20, 2012
German Tommy Haas joins 500-win club with landmark victory
VIENNA: German veteran Tommy Haas celebrated a piece of personal history on Thursday when the former world number two became only the fourth active player to win 500 matches.
The 34-year-old Haas, whose career has been plagued by injuries, reached the landmark by beating American Jesse Levine 6-4, 6-2 in the Austrian Open second round.
Florida-based Haas, ranked 20 in the world, joins an elite group of active players made up of Roger Federer (871 wins), Rafael Nadal (583) and Lleyton Hewitt (566) to reach the 500-win mark.
The all-time leader is Jimmy Connors (1,243 wins) followed by Ivan Lendl (1,071), Guillermo Vilas (923) and John McEnroe (875).
“I really want to reach 500 wins, it was a goal for me at the start of the year. To do it means a lot. It’s been such a hard road, I had to play some good tennis,” said Haas, the champion in Vienna in 2001.
“No one gives you anything on the ATP. And to do it here in Vienna where I won the title was spectacular. “You have a lot of goals over the years and I’ve tried to reach mine. This is something great, because I wasn’t really sure I could do it when I was playing last spring.
Haas saved two break points early in the second set against Levine but did not concede a game afterward.
“It wasn’t easy, he is a very dangerous player,” the German said. “He attacked well but I got the right answers every time and served well.”
To mark the achievement, Haas was presented on court with a Fiat 500 retro car.
Meanwhile, Janko Tipsarevic reached his 13th quarterfinal of the season after the No.2 seed defeated Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 6-3, 6-4.
The world No.9 Tipsarevic, who is looking to qualify for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals, dropped serve once in each set but dominated play from the baseline against Gulbis.
“I have to be pumped for every single point and not think what’s going on behind me or ahead of me,” the Serb said. “The only thing I care about now is winning my next match. I don’t think about winning the tournament or about reaching London.”
Tipsarevic said his changed attitude toward the game has helped him to become a consistent top-10 player this year.
“I don’t feel I improved my forehand, backhand or serve dramatically,” he said. “I just feel that now I am living and breathing tennis outside of the tennis court as much as I am on the tennis court. ... This changed after winning the Davis Cup. I realized I wasn’t getting any younger and that I would regret it if I realised one day that I could have reached more in my career.”
Tipsarevic plays Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia in the quarterfinals. Bedene defeated Donald Young of the United States 7-6 (4), 6-7 (2), 6-3.
Marinko Matosevic of Australia beat wild card Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) to set up a quarterfinal against top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro. — Agencies