Tennis (Life) Birthdays – April 3, 2019

Tommy Haas (GER), 41

The man’s career, now that it’s all said and done, is summed up by one word: injuries.

Every time he got going, some other body part would break.

Sponsored

Here’s a list of the former world No. 2’s surgeries (and we’re probably missing a few)

Dec. 20, 2002 – Right rotator cuff surgery
July 18, 2003 – Arthroscopic surgery on same shoulder
Nov. 2007 – shoulder surgery
Feb. 21, 2010 – Right hip surgery
Mar. 23, 2010 – Right elbow surgery (he was also rehabbing a knee injury)
June 17, 2014 – Arthroscopic surgery, right shoulder (Had retired from matches four times during the early season).
April 13, 2016 –  Surgery to repair torn ligament in his right foot 

And that’s not even counting the various other injuries that kept him out for various periods of time (he even had to retire from Wimbledon in the first round one year, and missed a month, after stepping on an errant ball in practice).

Things were finally going well for Tommy Haas at the 2014 Australian Open – he even, finally, had a clothing sponsor. Then, his shoulder acted up again. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Haas was a terrific story in 2013 –  the oldest guy in the top 20. He reached the quarterfinals or better in 11 tournaments, and won in Munich and Vienna.

But 2014 started terribly.

We watched him practice before the Australian Open started, and he was wincing and grabbing his right shoulder.

In the first round, he retired in the second set of his match against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Haas was out from the 2014 French Open until Stuttgart and Munich in June, 2015 – two tournaments in his native Germany. But by then, he was without a ranking again. After playing through Vienna in October – he was out another 13 months. 

Giving it one more shot, Haas went 5-13 during the 2017 season, posting some good wins (including over his pal Federer on grass in Stuttgart), He ended things in July, having squeezed back into the top 250, but no more.

Federer shocked by Haas in Stuttgart

Officially, he retired at Indian Wells in 2018, in his second year as the tournament director of the event.

He remains in that position – a pretty cushy job, given the near-unlimited resources at his disposal there. And given he’s still in fine nick, he can step in when there are unexpected withdrawals.

Haas

In 2017, he played an exhibition with Vasek Pospisil after Nick Kyrgios was a late withdrawal for his quarterfinal match against Roger Federer.

This year, when Rafael Nadal pulled out before his semifinal against Federer, he joined John McEnroe, Novak Djokovic and Pete Sampras in some fun doubles.

Haas makes retirement official

Haas peaked at No. 2 in the world what seems a century ago, but was actually in 2002. He won 15 singles titles and over $13 million. He was a silver medalist at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Nicolas Escudé (FRA), 43

Escudé is one of the myriad of talented Frenchmen whose talent somehow never translated into big results.

Haas
(One of the best tennis pics ever – featuring  Escudé)

But he certainly had his share of highlight moments.

He hit the top 20 in 2000 (topping out at No. 17). And he made one of the great tennis photos of all time (at right).

Along the way, he reached the 1998 Australian Open semifinals (coming back from two sets to none down three times), the 1999 US Open quarters (out of the qualifying), and the 2001 Wimbledon quarterfinals.

He won Rotterdam in 2001 (over Federer in a third-set tiebreak) and again in 2002 (over Tim Henman in three sets).

Escudé posted an 18-5 career Davis Cup record (13-3 in singles) in 13 ties and was part of the winning 2001 squad.

He didn’t retire as much as fall right off the map.

Escudé won Doha in 2004, retired in his round-of-16 match at the French Open, didn’t play again until the Rogers Cup in Toronto that year, where he lost in the first round to Feliciano Lopez.

Tsonga-Escude-IW

And then he disappeared. He had shoulder surgery in September of that year, and never recovered.

Escudé officially announced his retirement before the 2006 French Open.

After his playing days, Escudé was captain of the French Fed Cup team before Amélie Mauresmo took over. That meant he has to deal with the likes of the fathers of Aravane Rezai and Marion Bartoli, and try to convince them all to get with the program.

It got fairly dramatic.

Escudé pretty much butchered the Rezai situation in 2012 during Fed Cup. And then pretty much admitted, without actually saying it, that he didn’t have a snowball-in-hell of a clue about how to deal with a women’s team.

It is not an unusual story with male Fed Cup captains. They take that job, but the one they really want is the Davis Cup captaincy.

But Escudé didn’t get it.

After Guy Forget retired from it, the job went to Arnaud Clément. And then to Yannick Noah. And then, to Sébastien Grosjean after Mauresmo had it, then gave it up to coach Lucas Pouille.

As a consolation prize, he was a co-coach with Thierry Ascione, working with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nicolas Mahut. Escudé also coached Jérémy Chardy.

He also has been ambassador and tournament director for a couple of Challengers in France.

He’s an analyst on Eurosport.

All in all, he’s had a pretty fascinating life in the game.Tsonga-Escude-Oz

Sandrine Testud (FRA), 47

Her best Grand Slam results were quarter-finals at the U.S. Open and in Australia; she played in 43 consecutive Grand Slam events, which is a feat in itself.

Testud was top-10 in both singles and doubles in 2000, and was a stalwart on the French Fed Cup team.

Sandrine Testud_new

She retired in 2002 because she was pregnant (yes, she married her coach, Vittorio Magnelli).

Daughter Isabella was born in 2003. They live in Rome. 

Testud tried a comeback in 2004 mostly because she wanted to play the Olympics, which was not a success story on the level of Lindsay Davenport or the Belgians.

But on the plus side, she beat Monica Seles twice and Serena Williams three times in her career.

These days, Testud has embraced the seniors’ scene. She has played multiple times for France in the ITF world championships.

And she also has played often in the Roland Garros legends.

She still smacks the ball. 

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