Comeback king Haas bids farewell to Melbourne

Tommy Haas made his comeback and showed he could still compete, but his Australian Open career ended in disappointing circumstances.

The German is a former world number two with numerous appearances in grand-slam semi-finals.

Now 38, Haas is among the best players to have never won a major.

This season should be his last, although in truth he has barely played since 2014 due to injuries.

Haas played 68 matches in 2013, but little since - 25 in 2014, 13 in '15 and none last year.

At last count, he has had nine surgeries. The latest was on his foot in April last year. Add that to operations on his shoulder, elbow, hip and ankle among others means for Haas to have even stepped out on Court 8 on Tuesday was an achievement, a fact he acknowledged afterwards.

Taking on world number 47 Benoit Paire in the opening round in his first competitive match since October 2015., Haas had his moments.

A three-time semi-finalist at Melbourne Park, he was the clear crowd favourite and went up a break in the first set, but relinquished that immediately, before losing the first six points of the tie-break.

He required medical attention in the second yet hung in there, at least until the 10th game when Paire broke to go two sets up.

That's when Haas felt physically "empty", leading to his unfortunate retirement.

He was a popular loser, too. The crowd's loudest appreciation was saved for Haas removing his shirt afterwards.

As Paire left the court largely unnoticed, Haas was a wanted man - towels, autographs or otherwise.

He had shown he could still be competitive, although 34 unforced errors - and Paire's 46 winners - proved his undoing.

Haas, now BNP Paribas Open tournament director, has no plans to retire for good just yet, although Tuesday marked his final Australian Open appearance.

"I'd like to finish on my own terms. That's very important to me as a professional tennis player," he said afterwards.

"Also trying to play this event one more time was important because this was one of my best slams. I've done really well here in the past. I've always loved coming to this tournament.

"That's really it. I have a six-year-old daughter now who I would love to see sit in my box the next few months and watch her daddy play and realise what I'm doing and really remember that for the rest of her life. That's another big motivation for me.

"But mainly for myself, it's been an unlucky last three years again with shoulder surgery and foot surgery."

As Haas has loved the Australian Open, Melbourne showed the feeling was mutual, even if both deserved a better ending.

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