Haas Prevails In Battle Of Youth vs. Experience
Brown defeats defending champion Monaco on Monday in Houston
Former World No. 2 Tommy Haas turned back the clock on Monday night at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston, defeating a player 20 years younger in #NextGen ATP American Reilly Opelka 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3.
The age disparity between 39-year-old Haas and 19-year-old Opelka is the eighth-biggest in an ATP World Tour or Grand Slam match since 1985. The biggest age gap during this period is an 18-year-old Dominic Thiem defeating 44-year-old Thomas Muster in Vienna in 2011.
“It’s nice to win these matches, especially against the young guys who are going to be around for a long time. The nerves when you’re trying to win a match are something you can’t practise. You can run all day on the treadmill, be in the gym a lot, but you can’t substitute that for match play,” said Haas. “Hopefully I can recover well and be ready for Wednesday."
Next up for the 2004 Houston champion is top seed Jack Sock, who received a first-round bye. Haas and Sock are even in their FedEx ATP Head2Head at 1-1, but haven’t played since Auckland in January 2014.
Although Haas is competing in his final season on the ATP World Tour, the German said this is not a nostalgia act and that he’s determined to score an upset over Sock.
“I don’t know any other way, to be honest. If I'm not trying to win the match and play to the best of my ability, then I don't see the point," said Haas. “I just want to be able to finish on my own terms and play the tournaments that I’ve enjoyed one more time.”
Both players held serve throughout the first set, but Haas rallied from 3/5 in the tie-break and grabbed the early advantage after Opelka missed an overhead smash from the baseline. The American regrouped by grabbing the lone break of serve in the second set at 2-2.
Haas was unable to convert on three break points in Opelka’s opening service game of the final set, but earned another trio of chances at 1-1 and made good after the American sent a backhand wide. The former World No. 2 comfortably held serve the rest of the way to prevail in two hours and 11 minutes.
Dustin Brown defeated defending champion Juan Monaco in the evening session 7-6(7), 6-3. The German saved two set points in the opening set, one on his serve at 5-6 and another in the tie-break at 6/7. Brown improves his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Monaco to 2-0 and will now play fourth seed Steve Johnson for a place in the last eight.
"We've played each other before, so we both knew what to expect. I knew I'd have to be aggressive and am very happy to get the win," said Brown.
Nicolas Kicker advanced after qualifier and #NextGenATP American Noah Rubin retired with a right wrist injury. The Argentine led 5-3 in the first set. Next up for Kicker is the winner between fifth seed Fernando Verdasco and Kevin Anderson.