German Stars did not disappoint their fans on “Germany Day”.
Above all, it was veteran Tommy Haas who brought the fans to their feet during his first round match at the Mercedes Cup at Stuttgart’s Weissenhof. The 39-year old from Hamburg, due to injuries and a long break only no. 302 in the world, only got into the main draw thanks to a wild card. In the first round he had to face Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert (ATP no. 75), whom he beat in three sets, thereby setting up a crowd-pleasing clash with superstar Roger Federer who had a bye in the first round.
Haas was more or less satisfied with his first appearance at the MercedesCup: “There’s nothing much to criticize when you win. The third set was pretty close. At 5-5 I played some good points in a row, I returned well and was able to serve out the match.”
Haas got off to a good start getting a break at the right time and taking the first set 6-3. The second set was wide open for a long time before it was Herbert’s time to shine and take the set 6-4. The third set was finally decided by the greater experience of Haas. He broke Herbert’s service to take a 6-5 lead. Then he easily served out the match.
Haas is very much looking forward to facing his friend Roger Federer on Wednesday: “It’s always special to play against Roger. Now that the end of my career is near I obviously try to get as many special matches to remember as I can. He’s a good buddy of my family and me and we get along really well off-court, too. As tournament director I had the honor to present him the trophy at Indian Wells. But those are things you have to shut out when you face off against each other.
He was also very happy that his 6.5 year old daughter Valentina flew in from Los Angeles shortly before the match. “I couldn’t meet her before the game, but then I saw here on the stands. It was one of my goals to have her watch and cheer me on when I play. I’m so glad that she could come to Germany and also meet her cousins again. That’s certainly a highlight for me.”
Directly before, Philipp Kohlschreiber enjoyed a very short day in the office. After winning the first set against Marcos Baghdatis 6-1, the fan-favorite from Cyprus had to bow out of the tournament due to an injury. Kohlschreiber commented his quick victory: “It’s always strange when your opponent has to retire due to injury. But I think that I played the first seven games really well. There was no holding back from both sides, it was all guns blazing straight from the start”. After a weak clay court season, Kohlschreiber wants to put the pedal to the metal on grass. “After the last weeks I’m really looking forward to a change in surface.” He also praised the MercedesCup: “This tournament has so much power and the fans just love it. I hope that I will get the chance to play a lot of grass court matches”.
Kohlschreiber’s next opponent will be Steve Johnson from the USA. The world’s no. 25 will be a formidable opponent, as Kohlschreiber knows: “He has a good forehand and a good service. Then there’s also a pretty good backhand slice which is never a disadvantage on grass.”
Qualifier Peter Gojowczyk also made it into the second round by beating Nikoloz Basilashvili from Georgia 2-6, 6-3, 6-1. Benoit Paire (FRA) beat Viktor Troicki (SRB) in the first match of the day 6-4, 6-4. Bernard Tomic (AUS) beat Stephane Robert (FRA) 6-1, 5-7, 6-2. Spaniard Feliciano Lopez a bit surprisingly ousted no. 7 seeded Gilles Simon from France 6-3, 6-3. Also in the second round: Jerzy Janowicz after a 3-set win against Andrey Kuznetsov from Russia.
In the final match of the day, Jeremy Chardy from France prevailed against German Florian Mayer, winning 7-6(3), 4-6, 7-6(1).