A tour veteran at 34 years of age, the German leapt an incredible 184 spots to finish 2012 ranked No.21. In a season highlighted by his stunning defeat of Roger Federer in the Halle final before rapturous home fans, he was named the ATP Comeback Player of the Year.
Strengths: Haas is a gifted, classically-moulded all-court player, playing with a stylish one-handed backhand and comfortable advancing to the net. He generates plenty of power behind his serve and from the baseline, and his impressive athleticism allows him to cover the court effectively. With no obvious weaknesses in his game, these assets allowed him to peak at world No.2 in 2002.
Weaknesses: Haas is arguably the most injury-ravaged player in the sport – his body has routinely failed him. He has missed chunks of countless seasons with a combination of ankle, shoulder, back and hip ailments. His combustible nature on court doubtlessly affects his concentration, and although he’s fairly mentally strong, has suffered a number of Grand Slam defeats after being in winning positions.
Opportunities: In the first five months of 2012, Haas had no real significant tournament results until he reached the semifinal in Munich. Thus, with a scarcity of points to defend he is perfectly placed to move further up the rankings, and what better place to continue his surge than in Australia? The German has a history of playing well in Melbourne – he was an Australian Open semifinalist in 1999, 2002 and 2007.
Threats: Soon to turn 35, Haas’ potential for injury is hardly likely to decrease. And although he’s an experienced and talented player whose name no player would want to see opposite theirs in the draw – he’s an Australian Open dark horse – it’s doubtful he can match it for five sets with the game’s top tier. He’s 6-21 against the Big Four, and they’re the ones who’ll be standing between him and what would be a fairytale Australian Open victory.
Todd Woodbridge, former world No.1 doubles player and Tennis Australia’s Head of Pro Tennis
“Haas is a veteran of the tour, and it’s impressive how he’s bounced back up the rankings again. One of the classic players that I thoroughly enjoy watching, but his best days probably behind him.”