To say Tommy Haas has had an injury plagued career is a gross understatement. A more accurate description would be that since joining the professional tour in 1996, he’s had a career of injury interrupted by brief stints on tour. During those injury-free periods, Haas flashed glimmers of brilliance, shades of enormous possibilities.
But Haas has not been fortunate enough to have had an extended season of injury-free tennis in which he could realize that great potential. Still, along the way, he has beaten some of the best players on the planet.
Only a man of great mental conviction, with an unmitigated love of the game, could or would continue doggedly along the path he’s traveled to reach this point in time.
It paid off.
In the fourth round of the Sony Open, on an unseasonably cool evening in Miami, at 34 years of age, improbably, Haas knocked Novak Djokovic out of the tournament.
He didn’t just a beat a top-ten player, he beat world number one, the top tenner.
Haas’s victory was a masterpiece of “demolition by disruption.”
He played heady, high percentage tennis employing an all-court game resplendent with variety. He coaxed, prodded and when most appropriate, forced Djokovic into committing an uncharacteristically high number of errors.
For his part, Djokovic appeared more bewildered than vexed by what was going down. He seemed to lack that escape artist ability he usually summons when in tight predicaments. He didn’t even go into his “f**k it” mode and just start hitting winners in clusters to get himself back into the groove.
Tommy Haas has had enough injuries and surgery to have discouraged the most resolute of men, yet he has not faltered. From each setback he has come back. He’s fulfilled the requirements necessary to rehab and again reach the elite level of tennis.
That’s a lot of grueling work!
He’s paid his dues many times over.
Tommy Haas deserved his win over Novak Djokovic.
He earned it, he damned sure earned it.