A returning Roger Federer admitted he was “not so shocked” to have suffered a surprise defeat to 39-year-old Tommy Haas in Stuttgart on Wednesday.
The 18-time Grand Slam champion, who missed the entire clay-court season in order to prepare for an assault on an eighth Wimbledon crown with rest and recuperation, was looking to continue his fairy-tale start to 2017 which saw him win the Australian Open and subsequent Masters 1000 titles in Indian Wells and Miami.
Federer squandered a match point and lost his grip on the game in the oldest tour match, in terms of combined ages, since 1982 as Haas, a former world No 2 but now ranked at 302, won 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 for just his fourth victory in 17 meetings against his close friend.
“I’m not so shocked to have lost. I knew I could lose against Tommy,” said Federer. “He was so good at the end and if I am happy for anybody, then it’s for Tommy.”
Federer also held match point in his only other defeat this year to Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai.
“It’s always special to play a close friend like Roger on grass, always lots of emotion,” said Haas, who has undergone nine surgeries in his career to mend a number of ailments.
“I saved a match point in the second set so was able to play more freely after that. I even shocked myself.”
Another victory for Haas, the lowest-ranked player to beat Federer since world No 407 Bjoern Phau in 1999, will become the oldest player to reach a tour semi-final since 40-year-old Jimmy Connors in 1993 in San Francisco.
“I am speechless, of course,” Haas said, who plays fellow countryman Mischa Zverev in the quarter-finals. “There are a lot of emotions when you are playing a close friend.
“When you come into the second set, save a match point and then come back, that always makes you very happy about a win. I am shocked myself.”
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