By Kelyn Soong, special to EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tommy Haas is the last person to defeat Roger Federer and is playing far beyond his world No. 36 ranking.
Haas, a former world No. 2, has not dropped a set en route to reaching the finals at the Citi Open, where he will take on second-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov.
It is the 34-year-old Haas’ seventh time playing in the Washington, D.C. tournament but first appearance in the title match. He has now reached tournament finals on three surfaces, grass, clay and hard court, all of which occurred in the last two months.
"When I first started playing tennis, I didn’t even think I would still be playing professional tennis at age 34," Haas said. "The limit was 30, 31 maybe. But at this point and time, I don’t really look at how old I am. As long as you’re fit and you enjoy playing the game, I think there’s still a lot of damage you can do sometimes."
Haas is guaranteed to move into the top 30 regardless of whether he wins or loses in the final and can reach as high as world No. 20 if he wins.
Top seed Mardy Fish lost to Haas 6-3, 7-5 in the semifinals and was impressed by his good friend’s game.
"He’s certainly back to playing the way a lot of the fans like watching him play, including myself," Fish said. "The guy was No. 2 in the world, he knows what he’s doing on the court so no disgrace to lose to someone like that."
Dolgopolov, who is 11 years younger than Haas, is also playing some of his best tennis.
The 23-year-old Ukrainian, ranked No. 25 in the world, has not lost a set and dismissed the eighth seed, Sam Querrey, in the semifinals 6-4, 6-4.
His quick, spin-filled serve and attacking style gave Querrey trouble.
Haas has never played Dolgopolov in an ATP match, but understands how challenging his unorthodox, go-for-broke game can be.
"He’s obviously a very dangerous player," Haas said. "You don’t know what to expect. [He has] a lot of fire power, a lot of crazy shots."
Dolgopolov is playing in Washington, D.C. for the first time and has turned around his subpar season this week at Citi Open. It is his first ATP 500 level final and win or lose, he will move up to world No. 16, three spots off his career high ranking.
"I need to show my best game – to attack and make a lot of winners," Dolgopolov said, when asked what he needs to do to beat Haas. "I’m not going to play slow. He’s attacking a lot as well. I think it’s going to be a tight game."
Regardless of who wins, Citi Open will have a new name to add to the stadium court banners.