Tommy Haas defying his age at Auckland event

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2014
Tommy Haas
Getty Images
MATURE OPERATOR: Tommy Haas will be hoping all his years of experience will help him to title glory in Auckland.

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At the age of 35, Tommy Haas has become the elder statesman of men's tennis, but that doesn't mean his career is in decline.

In fact, the German, who is ranked No 12 in the world, is the second seed for this year's Heineken Open in Auckland and will play his first match tomorrow.

Haas is living proof that tennis is becoming an older man's game. There are no teenagers in the top 100 and the average age of the players who made it to the fourth round of the Grand Slams last year was 28.

Haas though would have been a fairly significant factor in that statistic as he made it to the quarterfinals of the French Open and fourth round at Wimbledon last year (as well as winning tournaments in Munich and Vienna).

He takes pride in being so successful at an age that few tennis players continue to and says he hasn't put any timeline on when he'll stop.

"It's fun to continue to do what I really enjoy doing," Haas said.

"It gets harder being away from the family, but at the same time who knows how much longer I have the chance to do this?

"If I can continue to stay healthy and feel like once I'm on the court I don't have any excuses, I can't move because of some kind of injury or I can't practice because I can't do it for more than 45 minutes [I'll carry on]."

Of course, Haas isn't as agile as he was earlier in his professional career, which stretches back to 2003, but he may be one of the smartest players on the circuit.

When he faces the young guns on the circuit Haas feels that he might not be able to outrun his opponents, but he can outthink them.

"Sometimes it's mind boggling if you think about the fact that you're playing against a 19, 20 year old and I'm 15 years older than this kid and that's crazy," he said.

"But you try to use your experience, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't."

Three New Zealanders played in the last round of qualifying yesterday and it didn't come as much of a surprise to see all three bow out.

Artem Sitak, who has a world ranking of 591, put up the best fight in his 6-1 3-6 6-1 loss to America's Donald Young who has a world ranking of 96.

Sebastian Lavie (2152) on the other hand, was totally outclassed in his 6-2 6-2 defeat to Daniel Gimeno-Traver (82).

The New Zealand No 2, Michael Venus (399), also had a disappointing afternoon, losing to Lucas Lacko (90) 6-2 6-2.

On a low-key opening day there was just one first round singles match in the day session, where Colombia's Santiago Giraldo defeated Albert Montanes from Spain 6-1 7-6.

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But today things pick up with Kiwi Rubin Statham playing against Lacko. Fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber is next, against Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain, but the highlight of the day will come in the second match of the evening session when Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis plays Steve Johnson from America.

- Fairfax Media

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