Tommy Haas is five years older than Andy Roddick. Roddick retired in 2012.
Haas is three years older than Fernando Gonzalez. Gonzalez retired in 2012.
Haas is two years older than Juan Carlos Ferrero. Ferrero, at least in singles, retired in–you guessed it–2012.
But the 39-year-old is not done yet.
Haas, who is now the tournament director in Indian Wells despite still being active on the ATP Tour, has played seven matches in 2017–and won two of them. The former world No. 2 took down Reilly Opelka at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston and beat Benoit Paire at the Monte-Carlo Masters. He has also taken sets off Tomas Berdych and Jack Sock.
And he’s also taken a mid-match selfie with an iguana.
“I think when you go out there and compete, you hope for the best, that is to try to play well and try to win,” Haas said following his recent win over Paire. “Any time that happens…it’s a very nice feeling, of course. I just try to build from that. Try to get stronger physically; get more used to playing matches again–points when it counts. You can do a lot of things in practice and off court, but you cannot replicate that for match play.”
The German has done a lot of coming and going throughout his illustrious but injury-plagued career. He has gone from inside the top 10 to outside the top 40, to No. 2 and then to unranked, to inside the top 15 and back outside the top 40, back inside the top 10 to outside the top 80, inside the top 20 and back to unranked, back inside the top 15 to unranked, and he now registers at No. 459 in the rankings.
Haas has been forced to undergo nine major surgeries–on rotator cuffs, shoulders, elbows, hips, ankles, feet, and who knows what else. Despite all of that, he has won 15 singles titles, appeared in 28 finals, and brought home the silver medal from the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Although his title-winning days may be over, the Bradenton, Fla. and Los Angeles native is now playing for pride–and for satisfaction.
“There is no better, bigger satisfaction than when you go out there, competing and winning,” he noted. “In this case for me, it’s a big satisfaction. I’m very proud of the fact that I’m actually still out there, competing at this age. Due to setbacks and injuries I’ve had, I could have easily thrown in the towel a couple times. But I’m still out there trying to finish this game on my own terms. That’s what I’m doing. I’m proud of that.”
Like many players who are past their prime, Haas has his fair share of critics in the media and even in the locker room. Even Paire was unimpressed while losing 6-2, 6-3 to the grizzled veteran in Monte-Carlo.
“He is null,” the Frenchman was heard saying during the match. “If I play for two seconds, I win 6-2 6-2.”
And at his press conference: “Today age didn’t matter. Even against a player of 70 years I would have lost today because I wasn’t able to play at all.”
Paire, and others, should be know better than to criticize a 39-year-old who is out there grinding against players in their early 30s, 20s…and some even less than half of Haas’ age (Opelka is 19). But in case they don’t, they will feel the wrath of Haas’ wife–actress Sara Foster.
“Tommy had pneumonia when he played this tool in Australia,” Foster posted on Twitter, referencing Paire following the Monte-Carlo match. “Did he mention that in the press conference? No he didn’t.”
While his better half is beating up people on social media, it hardly matters if Haas is beating opponents on the court. Just being out there at his age and after countless surgeries is a victory of sorts. Haas says he will call it a career following this summer’s grass-court swing, but from the looks of him–and of his results–he could play forever.
Go on, Tommy!