Haas Outlasts Agassi in a Classic Battle to Join Kiefer in Semis
Tommy Haas booked his place in the semifinals of the Mercedes-Benz Cup for the first time with a thrilling three-set victory over top seed Andre Agassi. Haas saw two match points slip away in the second set before finally coming through 7-6(5), 6-7(6), 6-3 in 2 hours, 23 minutes against the three-time champion Agassi.
Haas came back from 5-1 down in the first set before clinching it in the tie-break, and the German twice served for the match in the second set at 5-4 and again at 6-5, only to see the American break straight back to force a tie-break. Haas then led 6-4 and double faulted on his first match point before Agassi put away a smash to save the second. Agassi eventually forced a third set with a backhand pass, much to the delight of the packed Stadium Court at the UCLA Tennis Center. The second set was the first win in a tie-breaker for Agassi in his last seven attempts.
Haas kept his nerve in the third, breaking in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead, and this time, the German served out the match to seal his place in the semifinals.
The semifinals of the Mercedes- Benz Cup in Los Angeles get underway on Saturday, with Germany’s Tommy Haas taking on Frenchman Cyril Saulnier, and Nicolas Kiefer facing American wild card Jeff Morrison. This is the first time in the Open Era that no seeded player has reached the semifinals at this tournament.
Haas, who defeated top seed and three-time champion Andre Agassi in the quarterfinal, will be appearing in his second semifinal of the year and first since he claimed the title in Houston in April, when he defeated Andy Roddick in the final. Haas, making his third appearance in Los Angeles having reached the quarterfinal in 2001 (l. to Kuerten), has a 17-13 record in 2004, having missed the whole of last year with a shoulder injury.
Haas has won both of his previous meetings against Saulnier, those coming in the Australian Open and Indian Wells in 2000. Saulnier is playing in his second semifinal of the season and second in as many weeks having lost to Alexander Popp in Newport last Saturday. The Frenchman is making his third appearance in Los Angeles this year and he will be attempting to reach his first career final.
Haas’ countryman Kiefer is looking to reach his third final of the year having lost to Joachim Johansson in Memphis and Vincent Spadea in Scottsdale. Kiefer will also be looking to reach his 15th career final (6-8 record) as well as continue his bid for a first title in the United States.
The German has a 22-14 record going into his first meeting with Morrison, a wild card entrant who reached his first career ATP semifinal with wins over Lester Cook, second seed Paradorn Srichaphan and Wesley Moodie without dropping a set. The American’s best performance of the year came on the Challenger circuit in April, when he won the title in Mexico City on hard courts. Morrison, a quarterfinalist last week in Newport, has won 84.5 percent of the points on his first serve in his three matches this week.
Agassi, Fish lose at Mercedes-Benz Cup
By BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer
July 17, 2004
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Andre Agassi became the last seeded player to lose at the Mercedes-Benz Cup on Friday night, leaving Jeff Morrison as the only American remaining in the tournament.
Agassi, the top seed and a three-time champion here, lost to Tommy Haas of Germany 7-6 (5), 6-7 (6), 6-3 after staving off two match points in the second set of the nearly 2 1/2 -hour quarterfinal.
``I haven't had too many matches lately and that probably cost me the first and third sets,'' said Agassi, who skipped Wimbledon because of a hip injury.
``My hip felt good, but (when) you haven't played matches in a while, I might be feeling it tomorrow. Just to be out here feels like a big step forward. I played pretty well, but not good enough. He had something to say about that.''
Agassi blew a 5-1 lead in the first set, getting broken twice as Haas forced the tiebreaker. Haas, who fired 20 aces in the match, used a 125 mph serve to win the tiebreaker 7-5.
``I was just kind of trying to hold my serve,'' Haas said. ``Before I knew it, it was 5-all and my confidence got back up with some good shots.''
Agassi missed several first serves in the second set, and was broken twice. Haas led 6-5 when Agassi broke back to force another tiebreaker.
Haas held two match points, but Agassi won the final four points of the tiebreaker to even the match. Haas broke once in the third set, when he faced just two break points on his serve, and closed out the victory on Agassi's netted forehand.
Haas reached his second semifinal of the year. He missed all of last year because of two right shoulder operations within seven months.
``This is worth all the rehab,'' he said. ``I've looked up to Agassi since I was a little kid. Who knows how much longer he will play, so this victory is right up there with my greatest ones.''
in another German article they said it maybe was the siren of an ambulance as somebody collapsed that brought Agassi out of his rhythm leading 5-1 in the 1st set.