ERSTE BANK OPEN
Muster Bows Out In ATP Swan Song
by ATP Staff|
Former World No. 1 Thomas Muster received an emotional send off in his final appearance on the ATP World Tour, given 10 minutes of standing ovations by the crowd of 7,500 spectators before and after his first-round match Tuesday at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.
“At the beginning I didn’t know if to cry or to play,” admitted an appreciative Muster. “It’s really hard to start a match a like that. You get standing ovations when you win, when you play a great match or win a tournament, but not in the first round and certainly not like that.
The 44-year-old Austrian was moved to tears during his speech following his 6-2, 6-3 loss to countryman Dominic Thiem, who was just five years old when Muster hung up his racquets for the first time in 1999 at Roland Garros.
“It was a great way to say thank you to everybody and that I had the chance to, after the French Open when I retired sort of semi-officially,” said the three-time Vienna finalist. “It was a good day to do that and I got a lot of respect for that. Thanks to everybody who supported me in the last year-and-a-half. It was a great experience for me.”
Muster made his return to competition in June 2010, playing a number of ATP Challenger Tour events in addition to his three ATP World Tour main draw appearances - twice in Vienna and earlier this year in Kitzbühel.
“I loved it because it was great to sort of see myself every week playing better, playing Challengers and winning a few matches, but also practicing with the guys and getting out there every morning and doing my job,” he reflected. “I really enjoyed it and I saw how much I enjoyed tennis. To play on that level and to challenge myself, I got a lot of respect from the guys out there. Thanks for that. I really appreciate that.”
While this marks the end of play at the ATP-level for Muster, he will play at the Salzburg Challenger in November and will compete on the ATP Champions Tour in coming years.
Muster compiled a 622-274 match record and won 44 titles over his prolific career, highlighted by the Roland Garros title in 1995. He attained the World No. 1 ranking the following February.
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