Muster Fizzles in Comeback

by John on October 26, 2010

The old guy didn’t do too bad.  As a matter of fact he did better than most people probably expected.  Former World No. 1 Thomas Muster played his first ATP Tour match today since a first-round loss at Roland Garros 11 years ago.  The 43-year-old Austrian legend put up a decent fight, but still was beaten 6-2, 7-6 (5) by fellow countryman Andreas Haider-Maurer in the first round of the Bank Austria TennisTrophy in Vienna.  Dubbed the Iron Man for his superb physical fitness, Muster was a dogged and tenacious competitor back in the day, particularly renowned for his clay-court prowess.  Forty of his 44 career titles were on clay, including the 1995 French Open.  Only Guillermo Vilas, with 45, holds more clay-court titles.  Muster began his comeback in June on the Challenger Tour, playing six tournaments and posting an inauspicious 1-6 record.  A wild-card entry for Vienna, the No. 974-ranked  Muster started slowly and was broken twice in the opening set.  The second set, though, was quite competitive, with each player holding serve throughout to force a tiebreaker.  Muster had his chances, but couldn’t stretch the match to a third set.  The 6-foot-3 Haider-Maurer, ranked No. 157, served extremely well, winning 96 percent of his first serve points, while hitting six aces to Muster’s five.  “I’m relieved despite losing as I gave my best and played pretty well,” Muster said.  “A third set would have been great, but well done to Andreas.”  Muster became the first player aged 40 and over to compete in a tour-level main draw since a 43-year-old Jimmy Connors played in Atlanta in 1996.  Connors holds the record as the oldest player to win a match on the ATP Tour when he reached the quarterfinals at Halle in June 1995 at age 42.  Afterwards, Muster insisted his reappearance on the tour was not a one-and-done stunt.  “I’ll keep training hard and plan to enter 20 to 25 events from March,” the Austrian star said.  “I don’t want to define my goals.  There is no pressure of getting into the top 10.  It’s about enjoying tennis.  In 1999, I hated tennis, now I love it.”

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