CARMEN JASPERSEN/AFP/GettyImages via Daylife
We had a weird couple of finals on the ATP tour this weekend.
No disrespect to Tommy Haas, but it qualifies as weird that he beat Roger Federer in Sunday’s Halle final: 7-6(5), 6-4. On paper, it seemed like no contest. Tommy, who entered Halle as a wildcard ranked 87 in the world, hadn’t beaten Roger since the 2002 Australian Open. And when the match started, it was all going according to the script: Roger secured an early break to go up 3-1 and was poised to go up a double break to seal the deal – or at least the first set. He then proceeded to have a mini meltdown of form and brain function a la the semis at Roland Garros.
But enough about Roger and the match “on paper.” Anyone who watched Tommy Haas play this week – I particularly enjoyed his match vs. last year’s titlist Philipp Kohlschreiber – was reminded, yet again, of this guy’s talent. I remember being at a press conference of Tommy’s a couple years ago in LA (remember that whole “Samurai” debacle?) and enjoying his observation that he “played tennis the way it’s supposed to be played.” I guess that’s a bit subjective, but I agree. Much like his opponent today, Tommy Haas is a pleasure to watch on the tennis court. It’s great to see that after all the injuries, bad luck and mental slides he’s suffered over the years, he still has the passion and the game to make an impression on the tour. He had some great comments after the match (via the ATP):
“I don’t have many words to say really, except that it is an amazing feeling to win another title in Germany,” said Haas. “[Winning] my thirteenth title was a goal of mine to maybe achieve in the next coming months, years or however long I am going to play. To have somebody across the net like Roger is a real honour for me. To have that picture with the winning trophy and Roger next to me is something really special, something I’ll obviously never forget. I’m just really happy and proud.”
“It’s probably up there if not the sweetest one considering the injuries, considering not knowing how much longer it would really go or if I can actually get back to a certain level,” Haas said. “Then seeing how I played this week on grass here and beating Roger. It’s probably up there.”
And via tennis.com:
”If I thought about it, this would be the perfect way to say goodbye to tennis. Beating Roger, my 13th title. It would be perfect. But I’m not ready mentally. I hope the body holds up for many years to go. I love to play.”
“It was a tough match for me to lose really… He was aggressive, he was maybe the more inspired player out there today. And that’s why he deserved to win.”
As tough as he says the loss was for him, the uninspired Roger appeared fairly content with his runner’s up trophy:
Things were not so sweet at Queen’s Club, where a resurgent David Nalbandian blew his 7-6 (3), 3-4 lead by acting like a moron, handing Marin Cilic the win by default.
Here’s Nalbandian letting out his mad dog:
And then he made it worse:
Shitty way for a great player to act. Shitty way to end what was turning out to be a good match. Shitty way for Marin Cilic – a guy who could use a confidence-building title victory – to win it. But the default obviously had to happen. As much as I love Nalbandian, his actions and his bitter, off-topic, remarks about the ATP after the fact cement his legacy as one of the sport’s true self-destructive headcases. He makes Marat Safin look as cool-headed as mature Ivan Lendl. Mad Dog or no, I’m still hoping the Argentine finds a way – the Olympics, Davis Cup, whatever – to tie a pretty bow around his messy career.
Nalbandian’s official statement (via the ATP website):
“I never intended to hit him, it was an unfortunate reaction in which I wanted to let off steam after losing a point,” said the Argentine. “I had the opportunity to personally apologise to the line umpire for this regrettable act that I am fully responsible for.”
Marin was disappointed with the way he won (via Washington Post):
“The match was still open but I can’t change it. I’m sorry for the (spectators) that it had to end like this. . .We had some good rallies, and it’s hard to see the final end like this.”
Let’s hope holding this awesomely gigantic trophy made him feel a little better.
REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett via Daylife
On the WTA side, this weekend has brought us a batch of talented, formerly down-on-their-luck finalists with something to prove. In Austria, Alize Cornet took out Yanina Wickmayer 7-5, 7-6(1) in the finals of the NÜRNBERGER Gastein Ladies. This is the second tour title for Alize, her first one coming all the way back in 2008.
“It has been four years I haven’t won a singles title, so it’s just happiness now,” Alize said afterwards (via the WTA) “I’m so happy.”
In rainy Birmingham, we still have an intriguing final between Melanie Oudin and Jelena Jankovic to look forward to. Oudin beat Jankovic in their previous and only meeting. I still remember that dramatic three setter in the third round of Wimbledon. Let’s hope they have the energy to play tomorrow – due to weather delays, both women had to finish up quarterfinals and battle through three set semifinal matches on Sunday.
Enjoy the grass court season while it lasts!