European Clash: 2006 Delray Beach ITC champ Haas meets Sijsling in opener

European Clash: 2006 Delray Beach ITC champ Haas meets Sijsling in opener

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European Clash: 2006 Delray Beach ITC champ Haas meets Sijsling in opener

[column size=”00-1″ last=”1″ style=”1″]By Romana Cvitkovic

Returning for a seventh time to Delray Beach, 2006 ITC champion and this year’s No. 2 seed Tommy Haas will take on 25-year-old Dutchman Igor Sijsling in the opening round of play.

Tuesday’s match will mark only the second time these two players have met, with Haas winning their first encounter on the hard courts of Auckland earlier this year, 6-3, 6-4.

Sitting comfortably at world No. 19, the 34-year-old Haas is a bit of a legend among active players. Still as enthusiastic about tennis as when he first arrived on the ATP World Tour as a teenager, the German boasts an impressive 505 career wins. But life on Tour – thanks in part to injury and surgery – wasn’t always so easy for the 16-year veteran.

After his 2010 first round loss in Delray Beach, Haas was forced to undergo hip surgery which pulled him out of play for over one year – even dropping him out of the rankings altogether in 2011. The following season got off to a slow start, and it wasn’t until June of 2012 that Haas announced his comeback by defeating an in-form Roger Federer in straight sets to take the Halle title. His climb back into the top 25 was inevitable.

Haas’ opponent, world No. 74 Igor Sijsling is making his debut at the Delray Beach ITC, and quickly proving to be a worthy challenger on any stage. Two weeks ago in Rotterdam, the Dutchman scored his first top 10 win by taking out Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, so he is primed to show some of his best tennis in Delray.

Whether ranked 200th or 20th in the world, you can never count out Tommy Haas. The Dutchman will have to play some inspired tennis to derail this former world No. 2.

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