Tennis Prose



Peter Haas Perspective on Federer (Book Excerpt)

fedflowBy Scoop Malinowski
I collected the perspective of Peter Haas, father of Tommy, of Roger Federer for my “Facing Federer” book…

Peter Haas (Father of Tommy Haas): “I know Roger very well. Tommy trains with him sometimes in Switzerland and other places. I’m a total, big-time Federer fan. Basically speaking, Tommy plays just like Roger, they both have the same old school backhand. That automatically makes me a Federer fan. They basically have the same basic type of game from an aesthetic point of view.”

Question: What is your first memory of Roger Federer?

Peter Haas: “It’s kind of a funny story. About approximately 12 or 13 years ago down in Miami, South Beach, Ocean Drive. I was walking down the sidewalk. Back then, Tommy wore a bit of a ponytail in the back. So I saw him and said, ‘Tommy! Tommy!’ This frickin’ guy wouldn’t turn around. I was thinking: What are you, like deaf?! And it happened to be Roger Federer, who was sitting there with his coach Peter Lundgren [smiles].”

Question: You’ve obviously gotten to know Roger, can you share a memory or anecdote that may capture his essence?

Peter Haas: “I know Roger through Tommy. I am very friendly with Mirka. From tennis coaching I know her for ten years before she met Roger at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I’ve never seen a tennis player – and I’ve met many athletes and champions from all professions throughout Tommy’s entire career – as a person and a complete athlete, Roger is so friendly, so cordial, so open with people. With zero arrogance. The hair on my arm is almost standing up right now. What I’m saying, in essence, it’s almost unbelievable that this type of person exists. He’s such a pure, class act. In other words, he’s humble. Yet he does not need to be.”

Question: Is it hard for your son to play such a close friend like Federer?

Peter Haas: “On the court, they’re always going to be fierce competitors. They each have to fight for themselves to win the match. But once the match is over, they’re friends. But when it comes to the match they have to be warriors and gladiators. And they accept each other’s performance. It’s a lot easier for Tommy to accept to lose to Federer, or win, and Federer is the same way if he loses against Tommy. Federer is man enough to say: Hey I lost to Tommy, I lost to a great player. In a nutshell, it’s respect.”

(Peter Haas – on left – with friend and translator Mark Patrick Schlobach at the 2013 Sarasota Open Challenger in Longboat Key, Florida.)

“Facing Federer: A Symposium” will be published and available by the 2013 U.S. Open.

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  • Harold · May 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    All the Fed hater with their perception of Fed being arrogant, must be having a stroke

    “I’ve never seen a tennis player – and I’ve met many athletes and champions from all professions throughout Tommy’s entire career – as a person and a complete athlete, Roger is so friendly, so cordial, so open with people. With zero arrogance. The hair on my arm is almost standing up right now. What I’m saying, in essence, it’s almost unbelievable that this type of person exists. He’s such a pure, class act. In other words, he’s humble. Yet he does not need to be.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Harold, Federer is FAR, FAR from arrogant. Not even close. There are just so many illustrations of Federer’s humility like this one by Peter Haas in the book from so many different sources. I will never forget Peter speaking these quotes with such respectful vehemence, while we were watching a QF at the Sarasota Open Challenger, Facundo Arguello vs. Denys Molchanov. BTW, the quotes were translated by our mutual friend Mark Patrick Schlobach who is good friends with Peter.

  • tootsie · May 13, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Gee Harold, I wonder where all these people ever got the idea that Federer is arrogant. Couldn’t possibly be anything to do with his constant comments about how good he is, how good his game is, how the stands are full of people who come to see the best player play…little things like that. **rolleyes** Ok, I’ll give you the possibility that it is just his way of speaking and his constant self-praise is just his way of expressing himself, but humble?????? Give me a break! The man doesn’t have a humble bone in his body. That statement by the elder Haas actually made me laugh out loud. Down to earth, friendly, polite to kids and little old ladies – he may be all of those but humble he is not.

  • tootsie · May 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Since this is the latest blog to comment in, thought it was a good place to bring this forward. Scoop, in your nonsensical, fantastical article on Djokovic being the New King of Clay you said, and I responded:

    “I strongly believe Djokovic is going to rule the sport, on clay too, this year and beyond. We’ll see how it plays out.”

    “tootsie · April 23, 2013 at 10:38 am

    No bloody way…and I’ll enjoy reminding you of how wrong you are.”

    Consider this just the first in a long line of reminders you will get. 😛

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 13, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Tootsie, he is very humble. But of course to be a great champion in tennis there must be a level of arrogance because after all you are trying to show you are better than the opponent, smarter, better, stronger, more clever, more determined, more courageous under extreme pressure, all those things and many more. On the court or in the heat of battle, yes, Federer has shown some cockiness and arrogance, which is to be expected, he’s human don’t forget. Even Mirka has said jokingly years ago, “I think he’s getting too cocky.” But overall, for how great he is, Federer has handled it incredibly well, with class and honor, such a fantastic ambassador for the sport. Many players and tennis insiders have shared with me countless examples of Federer’s humility and normalcy. I like the way Ilija Bozoljac said it best: “On the outside Federer is an extraordinary champion and tennis player but on the inside he’s still a normal person.” Very strong quote there by Bozoljac. And it’s merely an echo of so many other players sentiments toward Roger. As well as Mr. Peter Haas, who knows Federer personally, as his son Tommy and Federer have become close friends.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Tootsie, I can see why you feel this way about Rafa but let’s see the next time they play, either in Rome or Paris. Rafa has more motivation now, he has to protect points to not drop beyond #5. Regain his winning dominating aura. It’s not sensible for Djokovic to go all out and try to win everything pre-Roland Garros which is the ultimate target for him now. To win that elusive first French Open. Jack Kramer suggested sometimes players tank without even knowing it, an “unconscious tank” as he termed it in his bio “The Game.” I believe Djokovic may have unconsciously tanked vs. Dimitrov. I believe he again re-affirmed his mastery of Nadal in Monte Carlo on clay (as he did in 2011) which is huge for his psyche and the mental battle with Rafa. This time Djokovic is going to pace himself and save his peak best for the French Open. I expect him to do very well this week in Rome. We will continue this discussion after the French Open final where the king of clay will be determined ) Thanks for your reminder, and further more “reminders” if they happen to be needed )

  • Steve · May 13, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Is “Facing Federer” a working title or???

  • Steve · May 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Either Rosol or Gulbis will hopefully face Nadal next round of Rome. It’s all rather exciting.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    99% sure it will be the title Steve. Originally it was going to be Roger Federer: An Abstract Portrait Of A Champion but the project has evolved more in the direction of playing Federer and what that experience is like, details of the matches and being around Federer in the realm of the ATP tour. Along with perspectives from media and fans and various other sources on what it’s like to face or encounter Federer. Overall it’s a unique and new perspective of one of the greatest champions in the history of sport.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 13, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Gulbis qualified again and beat Jarkko who is having a big year. Rosol is putting up some good results now, his first real year on the tour. Rafa vs. Rosol or Gulbis is a must-watch, appointment canceling type match )

  • Steve · May 13, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Gasquet/Dimitrov had a great match in the Thailand Open at the end of last year. Gasquet ended up winning that tourney.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 13, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    I’ll take Dimitrov to beat Gasquet the next time they play Steve.

  • tootsie · May 14, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Ahhhh, I see. Djokovic was just taking it easy when he lost to Dimitrov. He fought through three tough sets instead of just tanking in two to what? Give the fans their money’s worth? That must be what happened to him in Miami too. He just wanted to give old guy Haas a late career thrill by letting him beat him. And Delpo in Indian Wells needed a confidence boost so it was nice of Djokovic to let him win.

    I must say, all this losing is an unusual way to build up towards the next slam. You say it’s sensible. I say you’re crazy!

    And may I remind you that the h2h between Nadal and Djokovic on clay is 12-3. That’s 12 for Nadal and 3 for Novak. Some mastery.

  • Steve · May 14, 2013 at 6:33 am

    Clay is apparently Dimitrov’s fav surface and he’s playing well for sure. You know who I’m rooting for…we’ll see.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 14, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Well Tootsie I subscribe to the Jack Kramer theory of the “unconscious tank.” Not saying Djokovic took it easy on Haas or Dimitrov but I highly doubt he was playing at full motivation and drive. It’s been said in boxing great fighters have trouble getting up for mediocre fights. I feel the same way about tennis, those were mediocre matches for Djokovic. His mental preparation going into these two matches was probably a little off the max. And that’s all it takes, it’s afine line between winning and losing. You know what I’m talking about. Look at it this way: the next time Djokovic plays Haas and Dimitrov, I am 1000% sure you will not be wagering your paycheck on Haas or Dimitrov : )

  • Steve · May 14, 2013 at 10:50 am

    “I’ll take Dimitrov to beat Gasquet the next time they play Steve.” Well Gasquet won. Outside of some spectacular drop shots Gasquet simply played consistent, solid tennis. The 22 yr old Bulgarian did not look focused. He phoned in this performance which you can’t do if you want to get to the top 10.
    Besides some superficial likenesses to Federer’s backhand and forehand they have absolutely nothing in common.

  • Kat_YYZ · May 16, 2013 at 12:36 am

    tootsie, we are supposed to take your word over the word of a guy who knows Federer for over 10 years?? do you know Fed personally? you read Peter Haas’ words and decided they were invalid because of a few press conference quotes? Please, you are just jealous, go back to VamosBrigade instead of bringing your unwarranted hate here.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 16, 2013 at 6:58 am

    It’s just not even a question Kat, Fed is remarkably humble for a guy that does not need to be. I have plenty of evidences of it from insider sources which will be a part of my “Facing Federer” book. Thank you for your comment and welcome to the site.



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