Tommy Haas makes winning return to the tour in Stuttgart

Tommy Haas (photo: Mercedes Cup)

STUTTGART, June 09, 2015

Nine German players were in action on Day 2 of the Mercedes Cup to start their Stuttgart grass campaign in order to capture the first title for a local player since Michael Stich lifting the trophy at the TC Weissenhof in 1991.

One of them made his season debut. Tommy Haas celebrated a successful return to the tour, beating Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 7-5 in his first match within one year. The 37-year-old German won 93% of his first service points and saved one set point in the second set to seal victory in 78 minutes.

„It felt different having a real competitive match today with a lot of emotions. I am pretty happy but I am not there where I want to be. I worked hard for playing tennis again and being able to do so here in Germany is great,” told Haas after his first match since losing to Jurgen Zopp in the first round at Roland Garros last year. Since then, the German veteran has been sidelined due to shoulder injury.

“I haven’t had many thoughts on court today, I just played tennis. It’s pretty chilly here and the surface is pretty slow. I made the big points today, which obviously helped. My shoulder is a bit sore right now, still feeling a bit of problems with my serve but I do not have pain during the matches and hope that it will continue improving over the next couple of weeks.”

Haas will face Bernard Tomic in the next round. The fifth-seed, who was born in Stuttgart 24 years ago before his family immigrated to Australia, defeated Jan-Lennard Struff winning 6-3, 7-6 in 70 minutes.

“It’s very exciting for me to be back here,” said Tomic. “My first match on grass was pretty good. I served and returned well in the first set. I think I lost a little bit of concentration in the second. It’s all about finding your movement on the grass in the first match and I felt like it was pretty solid.”

German wild card, Alexander Zverev, celebrated his first victory on grass on the ATP World Tour converting his second match point to beat Croatian qualifier Mate Pavic 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 41 minutes.

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The 18-year-old will face eighth seed Viktor Troicki in the second round. The Serb defeated Borna Coric, who is currently ranked on a career high 41st position, in straight sets winning 6-2, 6-0 in only 45 minutes.

Zverev’s older brother Mischa also made it into the next round. The 27-year-old had to battle through the qualification and knocked out seventh seed Dominic Thiem in the opening round of the main draw. Zverev capitalized on three of his six break points, winning 7-6, 6-2 in one hour and 25 minutes. The German will face Andres Seppi next. The Italian took out Benjamin Becker through a 6-1, 6-2 victory in 58 minutes.

The opponents for the four top-seeds have also been found. Stuttgart’s number one Rafael Nadal will take on Marcos Baghdatis in his opening match. The 29-year-old Cypriot beat Lukas Rosol 6-3, 6-4 in 66 minutes. Baghdatis and Nadal will meet for the ninth time on the tour, with the Spaniard leading 7-1 in head to head records. Nadal gained some match practice winning his doubles encounter teaming up with Feliciano López 7-6, 6-2 against Rameez Junaid and Adil Shamasdin.

Second seed Marin Cilic will face Matthias Bachinger in his opening match. The 28-year-old from Munich, who entered the main draw as lucky loser after Radek Stepanek withdrew from the tournament due to back injury, beat Peter Gojowczyk in an all-German-affair winning 7-5, 7-5 in one hour and 21 minutes.

The tournament’s number three and second Spaniard in the draw Feliciano López will face Sam Groth. The ace-machine from Australia fired 22 service winners in his match against Sergiy Stakhovsky, who was forced to retire at 6-4, 5-7, 3-5 after one hour and 53 minutes.

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Fourth seed Gael Monfils will meet Andreas Haider-Maurer in the second round. The world number 55 from Austria defeated German wild card Maximilian Marterer, winning 7-6, 6-3 in 71 minutes.

In the last match on centre court, Jerzy Janowicz withstood 12 aces from qualifier Dustin Brown winning 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 52 minutes to take on another German in the second round. The world number 50 will face sixth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Alexander Dolgopolov in straight sets on Monday.