Muster Says Auf Wiedersehen to ATP Tour in Vienna

by John on October 26, 2011

Youth was served last night as Austrian teenager Dominic Thiem defeated 44-year-old fellow countryman Thomas Muster 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. The former No. 1-ranked Muster was playing in his final ATP Tour event after coming out of retirement last June. Thiem, 18-years old and No. 9 in the world junior rankings, displayed more power and pace than his still spry and competitive opponent, while earning his first win on the ATP circuit. Muster never formally retired back in 1999 after he lost in the first round of the French Open. He merely said he would “go on a holiday.” The “holiday” lasted 11 years. Uber fit and intensely competitive, the legendary Austrian, known for his ironman training regimen, dominated the clay courts in the 1990s and won the 1995 French Open. Muster won 44 tournaments during his career, 40 of them on clay. Since returning last year, Muster has struggled trying to play a young man’s game. Competing mostly on the second-tier Challenger circuit, Muster managed just two wins in 25 matches, including an 0-3 mark in Tour level competition. “I don’t regret anything,” said Muster, fighting back tears after the match in the packed Stadthalle. “My comeback was not about winning or losing, it was about the feeling of being able to compete at top level again.” Muster bid a fond farewell by throwing his racket and towels into the appreciative crowd. The one-time toughest man in tennis at times looked overcome by the scene. “I never had a chance to say goodbye,” Muster said. “This is such a great goodbye. This is definitely my last appearance on the ATP.” Thiem broke in the opening game and again in the fifth game to take the first set in 32 minutes. Muster broke in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead, but that would be the last hurrah for the tiring greybeard legend. Thiem won five straight games to seal the victory in 1 hour and 3 minutes. “The right player has won, Dominic handled the pressure well,” Muster said. “And he can use these 20 ATP points more than I could.” Muster isn’t quite done yet, though. He will play the Salzburg Challenger in November and compete on the ATP Champions Tour in the future.

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