Like Andy Murray, Tommy Haas has made his first Wimbledon semi-final. But at 31 – he is the oldest man in the final eight – and in his 11th Championships, the German has taken a more roundabout route to the last four, with one visit to the fourth round his previous best. He may be a surprising presence in the last four, where he will play Roger Federer, yet he should not be underestimated on the evidence of yesterday's 7-5, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 triumph over Novak Djokovic, the No 4 seed.
Haas' serve gave him the edge, as he delivered 18 aces on Court No 1. "I served extremely well and didn't really give him much of a rhythm," said Haas, a three-time Australian Open semi-finalist. "He never really got a groove on returning well to maybe get some confidence or break me."
But after serving out the first set, Haas stumbled in the second as Djokovic won all four points in the last game to force a tiebreak, then soon held three set points. "All of a sudden I lost four points in a row on my serve," Haas said. "Next thing you know, I'm down in the tiebreak 3-6. Then I just yelled at myself, basically, 'Wake up.'" He did, winning the next five points to take the second set.
Djokovic, who had won 12 sets in a row before this match, grabbed a lifeline by taking the close-fought third set 6-4. But Haas edged a tense fourth game in the fourth set on the Djokovic serve and consolidated to move into a 4-1 lead, then held his nerve to serve out for an impressive victory.
Now he faces Federer, against whom he came within a point of serving for the match in the fourth round of the French Open this year before losing the final three sets.
"It's in the past," said Haas. "But being a friend of his and knowing how much it meant to him winning the French Open I'm happy he made that shot."
Oldie but goodie: Life and times of Haas
* Born 3 April 1978, Hamburg, Germany.
* Haas' current ATP world ranking is 34th.
* Previous Grand Slam singles best: reaching Australian Open semi-finals in 1999, 2002 and 2007.
* Had never previously progressed beyond the third round at Wimbledon. He was No 13 seed in 2007 yet had to withdraw due to injury ahead of fourth-round match with Roger Federer. Last year, he exited in the third round against Andy Murray.
* Coach Nick Bollettieri offered a 13 year-old Haas a place at his tennis academy
* Arnold Schwarzenegger was a schoolmate of Tommy's father, Peter. The Californian governor supported Haas at the 2001 Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles.