HoustonChronicle.com -- http://www.HoustonChronicle.com
| Section: Tennis
May 2, 2005, 1:16AM
It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world
From Germany (Haas) to the U.S. (Roddick), tempers are bound to flare
By DALE ROBERTSON
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
Tommy Haas spends so much time in Houston he's practically a local now, and the friendly, affable German is a most welcome guest, well-liked by all who cross his path.
But Haas, who will represent the Houston Wranglers in World Team Tennis this summer, admits he has a dark side. On the court, his temper remains his Achilles' heel, keeping him, he says, from again playing at the top-10 level he believes he's capable of.
Case in point was his U.S. Clay Courts quarterfinal loss to Jurgen Melzer, who ended Haas' seven-match winning streak in the tournament. He said his anger only buoyed Melzer's confidence. Melzer, who is prone to self-destructive behavior, too, knew what to look for.
"The mad thing is definitely something I need to work on to control," Haas said. "It's OK to let it out, but you have to refocus. You can't give your opponent the sign you're frustrated. When I was broken the second time, I had my head down a little bit.
"It's very difficult for me to control my temper sometimes, so I was trying to get my blood pressure down to normal. When I broke him back, I thought everything was OK, but then he broke again, and that was very tough for me to deal with. I admit I had a mental breakdown there."
Haas kept his cool reasonably well in Munich, his real hometown, this past week before losing a difficult three-set semifinal to Andrei Pavel. And he's hardly alone in his fight to stay calm.
Andy Roddick is also wont to fling the occasional racket and berate himself with the entire stadium listening in.
Roddick was asked if the outbursts let off steam. Sometimes, he replied, "but on days when I freak out, no."
"I'm kind of my best friend and my worst enemy at the same time, I guess," he said.
Roddick didn't have much to be mad about as he blew through the Houston tournament without dropping a set. A greater challenge beckons this week in Rome, where a much more formidable crowd awaits.
At least Roddick's two worst nemeses — the guys ranked above him, Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt — are taking the week off, and the hottest player on dirt at present, Rafael Nadal, is in the other half of the draw.