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THE LIPTON CHAMPIONSHIPS


March 28, 1997


Thomas Muster


Key Biscayne, FL

JOE LYNCH: Thomas Muster improves to 20 and 3 for the year, reaches his second final, reaches his first final in the US since the '89 Lipton final eight years ago. Will play Sergi Bruguera who he has an 11-3 advantage on. First question.

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Q. Thomas, seeing you in the final here, it's difficult not to think back to 1989 and what happened that night. Is that on your mind a little bit, too?

THOMAS MUSTER: It's three days early and about one and a half hours. It's about right, what you're saying. He had good mathematics, eight years, it's about right. I just spoke about it actually. Never been so clear to me than today what happened eight years ago. I'm definitely not going to Bayside tonight. I think, yeah, what happened eight years ago is the past, but now being in the finals again, I think that's the biggest justice I could have got. It's even worth more than getting $1 million out of the lawsuit we had actually. That's a great feeling.

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Q. What did you mean by it's never been more clear?

THOMAS MUSTER: Because it's almost eight years ago on the day. It's about the same situation, you know, playing a night match. Actually, it's about the same time, just three days earlier, as I said. If you think back eight years, what happened, I can remember every step with it. It's really clear to me. It's not that I'm afraid or whatever. The memory is coming back. It's not bad that the memory is coming back. As I said, it's probably a great feeling for justice being back in the finals.

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Q. So what safer evening are you planning?

THOMAS MUSTER: They're not going to lock me up here, for sure. As I said, I'm probably not going to Bayside tonight, unless we rearrange everything, tell Dr. Virgin that my right knee is coming tonight. Eight years ago, it wasn't really funny. Now, talking about it, as I said, it's really clear what happened. The same situation, I'm talking about justice in this case.

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Q. If that accident had not happened, how would your career have been different?

THOMAS MUSTER: You know, probably I would have been earlier in the top spots, for a longer time, with less injuries up till now. Could have played more on hardcourts. Probably would be a better hardcourt player than claycourt player. Definitely I would have got more chances of playing, practice more on hardcourts. I can't really complain about my career after that, so on the other hand it was a great experience to really at the lowest part, work my way back.

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Q. No question that one of the keys to the success of your career is your fitness level. Is it possible that if that accident had not occurred, you would not have been as fit as you are today?

THOMAS MUSTER: Might be a runner, I don't know. I think probably the appreciation of playing tennis probably was more on my mind than ever before '89. I really appreciated the time after the accident to be fit again, to play, to compete, to know what it means to miss the game for several months.

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Q. Comparing yourself today and '89, are you better player now than you were at that time?

THOMAS MUSTER: I played the same level in '89, I'd probably be ranked, I don't know, 150 in the world or something like that. I mean, eight years of tennis, there's a lot of movement going on, technical parts, fitness level, experience, all kinds of things. I mean, if I would be the same player in '89, Jesus.

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Q. Looking forward to Sergi on Sunday, what will the match be like?

THOMAS MUSTER: Well, Sergi definitely after struggling for the last few years is eager to come back to show his young fellow Spanish players that he wants to be back; he's not done, he's still young, and he can come back anytime and has the game. He had injury problems, he struggled for a while. But I think he wants to prove to everybody that he's back. His results were really great up till now, and he's proven today that he's not only a claycourt player, but that he can play on any surface, he can play indoors. It's going to be a very interesting match. Both of us playing very well this week. I guess it's a best of five finals. It could be one o'clock very hot, physical strength could be a factor, mental game, aggressive off the baseline. I mean, many factors. I've had a good record, but doesn't mean anything.

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Q. Did you watch the semifinals?

THOMAS MUSTER: I watched part of it. Sergi came back unbelievable in the tiebreak, played a strong third set. Pete looked a bit tired at the end. Sergi took advantage of it.

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Q. When he was at the top of his game on clay in 1994, 1993 and 1994, were your matches with him more mental in a way than physical? Where each of you were trying to impose your will and patience on the other?

THOMAS MUSTER: Well, I don't think it's so much the patience. I think it was more the more aggressive style I played on certain points. Last year at the US Open, or all the matches we played, I think I was more flexible, changed the pace, the tactics during the match a lot. That was a key point in most of the matches we played. It was more mentally actually, more the concept I had.

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Q. What does the success of yourself and Sergi, strong claycourt players, in the hardcourt season, should this be telling us anything about what's coming up on the clay?

THOMAS MUSTER: I don't know, maybe you have Sampras, whatever, finals at the French. I don't know. I disagree if you call us claycourt specialists. We have most of our success there, but it doesn't mean we can't play well on other stuff. For me it's great that two European players play the finals here. That's the best that could happen to us.

JOE LYNCH: First time since 1989 that there will be two European players in the final.

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Q. Did you watch the Sampras/Bruguera match?

THOMAS MUSTER: Parts of it, yes.

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Q. Were you struck at all by how well Sergi served the ball today?

THOMAS MUSTER: He has a good serve. If he's playing well, he serves well. He's a very good defense player, he moves well, passes well. Somebody comes in all the time has a tough time to put the ball away every single time. The balls are not as fast. You can get to the balls. That's what Sergi did today. He really fought every point and he got the result, which was very good at the end. It paid off for him.

JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Thomas? Go write.

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End of FastScripts....

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