TOMMY Haas became the oldest man to reach the singles quarter-finals at a grand slam since Andre Agassi at the 2005 US Open with a thrashing of Mikhail Youzhny at the French Open yesterday.
The 35-year-old German needed 13 match points and was pushed to 10-8 in the fifth set in beating John Isner in the third round, but yesterday he dropped just five games in a 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory.
Haas, who was ranked second in the world in 2002 and first played at Roland Garros 15 years ago, becomes a first-time French Open quarter-finalist in his 12th appearance at the tournament, a record for such a breakthrough.
He is the first German man to reach the final eight since Michael Stich and Bernd Karbacher in 1996. And he is the oldest men’s quarter-finalist at Roland Garros since 39-year-old Istvan Gulyas in 1971.
“These are cool stats sometimes to hear,” said Haas. “I feel like I’m riding a wave that I hope to continue as long as I can. I’m going out there and I try to improve my game as much as I can, and to be in this situation is spectacular.”
The German’s longevity may be partly due to a number of lengthy spells out with injury, most recently in 2011, when he briefly dropped off the rankings altogether.
Returning this time two years ago, Haas was 896th in the world. By last summer he had climbed almost back into the top 100 and had to qualify for the French Open. Seeded 12th here, yesterday’s win will put him close to a return to the top ten for the first time since 2007.
While Youzhny had upset eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic in the last round, he could not get into the match yesterday and took his frustration out on his racket in spectacular fashion at 3-0 down in the second set.
The Russian, who once required medical treatment during a match after whacking his racket against his own forehead, smashed the racket nine times on the back of his chair. “It’s bad luck for that racket,” he said at the post-match press conference.
Last year Youzhny wrote sorry in the clay after winning only four games against David Ferrer in a one-sided third-round contest.