Haas looking to go far in tournament
What have you been doing before coming to Auckland?
Eating a lot! Trying to spend time with the family. Spending as much time with them is always nice, especially not being on such a strict schedule. I’m slowly starting to get back in the swing of things, trying to get in shape, hitting some balls again. The racquets are a new design so trying to get used to that. Now I’m ready to get back in action.
How important is rest?
A break is always important – it’s very tough to find a break in the middle of the season. There is only a select group of guys that can allow themselves to stay away from the game – they’re just so good, they pick it up again. It only takes them a week or a couple of matches to get them back to where they were before. Everyone is so individual – for me, I need to clear my mind, see what my goals are going to be. Train smarter, and build up to the tournaments that are important to you.
What are your expectations this week?
It’s always a good one here – it’s the first match you play that counts for something again. You’re playing in front of a nice crowd, it’s a nice stadium. Obviously when you go out there, you try to win your matches and go out there to be better than your opponent. And try to get far in the tournament – that’s why we’re here, that’s the goal.
Your match against Monfils here last year was one of the best in this tournament’s history – do you have strong memories of that match?
It was a good match; I had a lot of chances. I remember it was 3-all in the third set and I had a few break points. I missed a few shots by an inch or two, that would’ve given me the break to go up serving to 5-3. But he broke me to go 5-3 and served it out so it was a tough loss, but at the same time, I felt it was a good match.
The timing of the tournament is very close to the Australian Open – do you see this as a good thing?
I think it’s important for me to get a few matches in if I can; I’m playing doubles here too. Some people might need two tournaments to be ready to go, some only need a few matches. My goal is to be as ready as possible.
When you are playing a younger player, do you feel confident you’ll win the ‘mental battle’, given your experience?
It comes down to just trying to win the match no matter what. Sometimes it’s mind-boggling to think about playing a 20-year-old who I am 15 years older than, that’s crazy. But it is what it is, you try to use your experience and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You can have as much knowledge of the game as you want, but sometimes you just can’t execute the shot, or your legs aren’t as quick as you want them to be. All it comes down to is finding your game, your confidence and going out there to see if you can win matches!