Robin Haase, who is into the Quarterfinals of the Winston Salem Open, sat down and talked with me after his Second Round victory over James Blake. In the past I thought he had come across as a bit of a goof-ball, but that was not the side he revealed to me. Instead he was very polite, thoughtful, and clearly image-conscious. I most regret that I didn’t ask him what products he uses on his hair….
You recently won your first title. What was that experience like?
Of course it was a great experience. I was really happy that I won there. I needed the points as well because I would have dropped a lot because I won last year three challengers at this time. Of course these points they make up for all these three tournaments and that’s of course just a great feeling to don’t drop of course and even get a win. Yeah I was really happy. And it’s a title that’s in the stats. It hasn’t been done in Holland in my country for seven years so that was also a nice thing.
Did you do anything special to celebrate?
No. I had to play club matches the next day in Germany. I told them- it was the last match of the year for them and a lot of players were of course in Montreal, (so) I told them I could play even if I was in the finals- it was a joke. But once I made it to the finals of course I don’t say no to them so of course I went there. Then the next few days I was just in my home country doing press- TV things, and I couldn’t really have time to celebrate. The only thing I did was have a family dinner like in a restauraunt to celebrate.
You’re active on twitter. Is that something you enjoy?
Well it’s something I do for the fans. It’s not like I enjoy it actually. Also my website, it’s not for myself it’s for my fans. Of course it’s nice to get good reactions and it’s nice that you get good feedback and you know why you do it, but of course it takes a lot of time. Even now it’s been three or four weeks since I updated my website. It’s tough to do it because there’s so many things. It’s taking so long because at first my website was only Dutch but now it’s in English as well so that takes time and a lot of energy. So I’ll try and do it as best as I can and try and do it a little different as well so the fans will hopefully like it and come back. Also with my tweets I try and do something a little different than maybe other players will do. I think in the end it’s fun of course to see the reactions.
You recently tweeted about a crazy train ride…
That was one of the things people really enjoyed I think. I still get a few tweets about that every once in a while. Things like that of course that’s fun to do but I try to keep it serious as well. I think it’s different for an athlete to tweet than say a soap star or something. They can keep more things in there , more funny things than I think an athlete can do because I think we’re all professionals, we’re all role models, so we have to also watch out what we write.
Who are your best friends on tour?
I can get along with a bunch of guys. Like here this week- like Jarkko Nieminen is always one of the friendly and great guys. We have dinner sometimes, because for example this week he doesn’t have a coach with him because he’s in New York already, so then of course it’s nice because you can sit along with each other at night or in the evening and have a little chat. I mean that’s one of the guys I mention but there’s not one guy I’d say I can’t have a dinner with. But I think in the tennis world it’s of course a lot of countries, not just the counties, the languages. The Spanish speaking guys- so Argentina, Spain- it’s logical they have dinner together. The french with each other, they are eight or nine guys, they don’t need to (branch out). At the moment I’m the only one in the Top 100 in my country and Jarkko in his country, and let’s say in Belgium there are only two guys so of course you come together.
You have a nickname I’ve heard about, Schlobber. Where did that come from?
It’s an old nickname, nobody knows it anymore. I couldn’t explain it in English It’s a German/Dutch thing… It means something like- not a homeless person, but how a homeless person looks. It’s old and in English it makes no sense at all.
Anything in particular you’re looking forward to doing in New York?
Well I’ve been in New York only twice- once for the U.S. Open, I stayed there for two weeks because I played a Challenger before that. I look forward to going there again. My brother is coming from Holland. My girlfriend is here as well, she lives in Washington, so she knows New York good as well and I think she will let me see a few things. There’s not a particular place I’d like to go but it’s a big city, a fun city, so I’m looking forward to it.