Tommy Haas on Friday made a bold bid to reach the final of the Sony Open five days before his 35th birthday — but David Ferrer, the relentless roadrunner from Spain, was too tough, too determined and, in the end, just TWO good.
Despite breaking serve twice in the final set, Haas went down 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 to Ferrer, who will be appearing in his fourth final of the year on Sunday, having won titles in Auckland and Buenos Aires.
He will face the winner of Friday’s other men’s semi between Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet.
In a match that ebbed and flowed in the mild afternoon sunshine, Haas roared away to a 5-2 first-set lead but, revealingly, could not close it out when he served for the set the first time. Suddenly finding his rhythm, Ferrer started to cut out the errors that, uncharacteristically, had been plaguing his game.
It was never as easy again for the German.
With Ferrer looking more and more like the man who will return to a ranking of No. 4 in the world next week, Haas struggled through the early games of the second set and finally buckled when a double fault and a bad forehand that flew long gave the Spaniard the break for 4-2.
Was Haas spent? Evidently not, because he capitalized on some poor serving from Ferrer and broke in the first game of the third. And despite losing his serve own serve immediately, Haas broke again and held to establish a 3-1 lead.
“I felt pretty good at 3-1,” said a frustrated Haas afterward. “But against someone like him, you have to take your chances, and I came up short. Serving at 3-2, I couldn’t buy a first serve. That hurt me quite a bit now I look back on it.”
In that crucial sixth game, Haas’ inability to put pressure on his opponent with his serve left him battling one of the game’s best baseline chasers in just the kind of rallies he wanted to avoid. It ended with Haas dropping serve yet again as he put a forehand long to terminate one of the longest rallies of the match. The momentum had changed for the last time.
“I started to get a lot of deep balls and he made life pretty tough on me,” said Haas. “But, looking at the whole picture, beating Novak Djokovic and coming back to beat Gilles Simon — it’s been an unbelievable tournament, something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
It has been a remarkable revival for the Florida resident who was ranked No. 2 in the world in 2002 before a series of injuries threw his career off the rails. He was out for 15 months after shoulder surgery and later underwent hip surgery. This time last year he was ranked 145, but will move up to No 14 when the new ATP rankings come out on Monday. That is some achievement at an age when most players contemplate retirement.
Ferrer was just thrilled to have put himself in a position to win an ATP Masters 1000 title, having won his first one at the Paris Indoors last November.
“I just try to fight for every point,” he said. “I know Tommy, in the third set, was a little bit more tired than me, and I just tried to keep my focus.”