Thomas Muster may be 42 years old and 11 of them may have passed since the Austrian last contested a match on the ATP World Tour but he insists he never announced his retirement and now intends a comeback with some of his potential opponents being a quarter of a century his junior.
Muster, French Open champion in 1995 and for the last five years a regular on the ATP Tour of Champions, has accepted a wild card into an $125,000 ATP Challenger event in Braunschweig, Germany which runs June 28 thru July 4.
Naturally enough the Nord/LB Open will be held on clay and Muster, who topped the world rankings on February 12, 1996, used to view the grass court season as his annual holiday. He only contested Wimbledon four times compared to 14 visits to Roland Garros.
Explaining his shock decision, the Leibnitz-born player who captained Austria’s Davis Cup team, established an apparel brand named Toms and owns a vineyard in his home country, said: “I just love to play. I love the competition.
“It’s not about garnering world ranking points for me. I just want to show my best tennis and see where it will all take me.”
But Muster, a predecessor of Rafael Nadal as owner of the title “The King of Clay’ with 44 career singles titles and a prize haul of more than $12 million to his name, insists this is not a comeback in the true sense of the word.
Casting his mind back to his last event on the ATP World Tour at the 1999 French Open when he lost in the first round to Nicolas Lapentti and has suffered eight first round defeats in ten tournaments, Muster insisted: “At the time all I said was I was going on holiday. So now I'm back from my holiday.”
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