Thomas Muster, 20 Years Later

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Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.

Twenty years ago, Thomas Muster was the undisputed King of Clay. He was the reigning French Open Champion, he had put together a 40 match clay court winning streak and amassed 12 titles in 1995 alone.

Today, at the age of 48, he is still grinding away, but in slightly more relaxed fashion on the ATP Champions Tour. So. does it really feel like twenty years since he became a Grand Slam Champion?

‘Yeah it does feel like 20 years, at least!’ he said. ‘It’s a long time ago, looking back, but there’s still memories there of winning that trophy. Obviously it was the only Grand Slam I won so the memories will never fade. It was a fulfilment of a dream I had had since I was a little kid. But I do try not to look back too much. I like to live in the present and the future.’

Speaking after his match with Thomas Enqvist on the second night of the Legends Cup in Palma Mallorca (won 6-3, 6-4 by Enqvist), Muster opened up about how his two children (Maxim, 6 and Christian, 14) view his achievements on the tennis court.

‘I keep the French Open trophy in my office behind some glass and when my daughter wins something in skiing or gymnastics she puts her trophies and medals next to mine. I think she’s more proud of hers though. It’s weird for my kids to have a Dad that played tennis for his job and was retired at the age of 32. That’s a strange thing to explain to them. They sometimes have questions about it but I try not to go on at them too much about my past.’

Muster reached the pinnacle of the game in an era dominated by two of the greats – Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras – so it might be surprising to hear he considers neither of them to have been his toughest opponent. In fact it was Stefan Edberg, whom he never beat in ten attempts.

‘Stefan Edberg was my guy that I could never beat,’ he said. ‘I beat Sampras, I beat Agassi, but I could never beat Stefan, even though I got close a few times. Everyone has that guy, mine was Edberg. He gave me no rhythm, I hated it.’

As one of the original iron men of the sport, Muster took physical training to a new level, grinding his opponents down with his strength and endurance. So is it true that he used to run from Monaco to Nice as part of his fitness regime?

‘I did do that a few times,’ he said. ‘It was more like a bet than an actual training session though. It’s not that far really, about 3/4 of a marathon. I’m such an extreme personality, that’s what makes me do things like that. It’s always extremes with me. When I don’t play I put on kilos and then one day I decide to practice and three months later I’ve lost 20 kilos. I’ll probably never find the balance. I’m almost 50 now so it looks like I’m going to be stuck like this forever.’

Muster now divides his time between Queensland, Australia and Graz, Austria and manages a number of business interests, including his own vineyard.

‘Things are good,’ he said. ‘I’m focussed on the present, on my kids and on being a good person. That’s kind of most important now.’

In the second match of Friday’s evening session Tim Henman took on Henri Leconte in a match packed with entertaining rallies, Henman’s serve volley style the perfect foil to Leconte’s flashy baseline game. In the end it was the Brit who emerged victorious, 6-4, 6-3, and booked himself a Saturday showdown with Alex Corretja to determine who will qualify for Sunday’s final.

Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.