At 35,he beats odds to stay 18https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/at-35-he-beats-odds-to-stay-18/

At 35,he beats odds to stay 18

On Tuesday,Tommy Haas pulled off the one of the biggest wins of his career when he thumped World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-2,6-4 in the fourth round of the Miami Masters on Tuesday.

On Tuesday,Tommy Haas pulled off the one of the biggest wins of his career when he thumped World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-2,6-4 in the fourth round of the Miami Masters on Tuesday. For a player ranked 18th in the world,beating the top guy is technically not much of a stretch,but for someone as old as Haas (a few days shy of 35) to to do so,is. The numbers bear it out too — Haas,a former World No. 2 back in the day in 2002,is the oldest player to beat a No. 1 in more than 30 years.

The physicality and stamina that men’s tennis at the elite level demands sets the current era apart from the preceding one of teenaged champions. Few young players have threatened to upset the established order. Milos Raonic (22) and Bernard Tomic (20),perhaps the most exciting of the emerging lot,are nowhere near the finished article. It is almost as if the baseline age has so standardised its aesthetics that it requires a certain type of player,of a certain age (between 25 and 30,encompassing the likes of Djokovic,Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal) and specific physical stature (a 5’9’’ David Ferrer is seemingly destined to not win a Slam) to succeed.

Mobility and consistently blurry racquet speed — hardly the attributes a creaky set of joints and a nagging back (Haas has been a chronic sufferer in this regard) are likely to furnish — appear paramount. So when the impossible happened,it was put down to a perfect storm of unfortunate events,as far as Djokovic was concerned.

The Serbian agreed that he ‘played the worst game in a long while.’ Some reports blamed the conditions. The temperature had dropped to 10 deg celsius that night. The ball apparently doesn’t bounce much in such conditions.

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Or if you choose to look at it that way,Haas,the oldest player in the top 50,continues to rage against the dying of the light.

Raakesh is a senior correspondent based in Delhi raakesh.natraj@expressindia.com