Indian Wells (dpa) – When Tommy Haas drives the almost two hours from Los Angeles to Indian Wells very early in the morning or late in the evening, this feeling arises shortly before the goal: relaxation.
The stressful days for the former number two in the tennis world are still ahead of her when she arrives in the desert city – as tournament director at the Masters tournament, he is responsible for the success of the event. This first edition since Corona is of particular importance, but this time too the 43-year-old feels the stress of the city has dropped. “You have a certain peace here, this facility is simply beautiful. It is one of the top facilities there is in the world of tennis,” he says, looking at the center court.
Popular event with professionals and fans alike
Down there they should all play in March 2020, everyone really wanted to be there: Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Williams, Osaka. The 75 best players in the ATP and WTA world rankings had registered for the popular competition in southern California, in their fourth year as tournament director “everything went as planned,” says Haas of the anticipation. And then “we were the first major sporting event that pulled the plug out of the box and canceled it. And by then we had 99 percent of the players here.”
Now the tournament in southern California, which is popular with professionals and fans alike, is back on an unusual date in the fall. Angelique Kerber is there. Olympic champion Alexander Zverev has also been training on the facility for a few days before his turn after the bye in round one against Jenson Brooksby (USA), and is already getting a lot of attention from the spectators and from some T-shirt change more jubilation than for a successful blow.
It is important that tennis is played here again
The big names are missing this time. The Grand Slam season is already over, many have said goodbye to the winter break due to injuries or exhaustion. Nevertheless, Haas says: “It is extremely important for everyone here that professional tennis is played again on this facility. That has been sad for the past year and a half.”
Even three years after the end of his career, he looks as fit as ever, no belly pushes against his red polo shirt with the sponsor logos. The stubble on the face is a bit gray in the hamburger, who has lived in the USA since childhood and has had both a German and an American passport for years. The family home is now in Los Angeles, where his two daughters go to school and his wife Sara’s parents are there.
He still has the confidence to compete against the players for whose well-being he is responsible – but no longer for the duration of an entire match. “If there was a tournament here where you only have to play one set and have a break the next day, then I could imagine preparing six weeks in advance and throwing my name into it,” he says and grins. “But only then.”