Haas eliminated Lars Poerschke, 6-1, 7-6 (8/6) in the first round of San Jose’s SAP Open, then stayed to play Pete Sampras in an exhibition match when James Blake was forced to withdraw due to back spasms.
“Tommy saved the day,” Sampras said.
Tournament officials were scrambling when Blake informed them of his withdrawal less than 15 minutes before the scheduled start.
“Ten minutes after my match I saw James was struggling a little bit,” Haas said. “Then Pete asked me and I said sure, why not? A lot of people came to see Pete tonight, and not who he played. It was fun. Pete still has an unbelievable serve.” Haas won the match, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 12-10.
Blake played a doubles match earlier that day with Mardy Fish and is scheduled to play Vincent Spadea on Wednesday night.
Haas has struggled with his share of problems before in his career. The former world No. 2 player has suffered through elbow and shoulder injuries and missed more than half of 2008’s season. He last reached a final when he beat Andy Roddick in February 2007 in Memphis.
“I can’t complain,” he said. “I’m not getting younger and I have to take more care of my body; be smart about things and hope my body holds up. I still enjoy tennis.”
Haas, with 11 career titles, was once ranked world No.2 and sank as low as 87th by the end of 2008. He’s currently ranked 65th.