home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


August 14, 1996

Thomas Muster


JOE LYNCH: First question for Thomas?

Q. How are your knees holding up so far?

THOMAS MUSTER: Well, pretty good. I just played one week, played last week, which was good for me, played quite well there on hardcourts, so it was good for me to play. I got another practice week here and then going off to Toronto, play the US Open, which is quite a good schedule to have, you know, less match stress this week.

Q. Did you want to play doubles this week just to keep in the groove on the surface?

THOMAS MUSTER: Actually I just wanted to practice. Andrea Gaudenzi asked me if I could play doubles with him, so I said actually at the last minute, "Yeah. . If we get a wildcard, I'd be happy to play." I was supposed to be here only for practice.

Q. Looking back at the Grand Slams, a lot of the big names are talking about Krajicek. Do you think (inaudible) is good for the game?

THOMAS MUSTER: I think it's good because you can see which kind of competition is out there. Many guys can win a Slam tournament. Somebody like Krajicek gets it together for two weeks, then he can win Wimbledon. That's good for the game, I think. I think it also keeps the competition up in the top five spots and who is going to be No. 1. I think it's very interesting this year because there's four or five guys in the position to take the top spot.

Q. There's a big controversy about the schedule for 1997. The Grand Slam Cup moved (inaudible)?

THOMAS MUSTER: It wasn't favorable to the ATP. If I had to speak for the ITF, I would say it was the best move they could have made. Speaking for the ATP, I mean, it's definitely not good for the ATP, because looks like the ITF places their tournaments as they want and sort of being more important, which is not something -- it's not something I would like to see.

Q. Is the Grand Slam Cup moving to September, is that better for the players?

THOMAS MUSTER: It's better for the players because it's not like Christmas event where you get your Christmas prize money, more or less. It becomes a more important event because it's sort of in fall and everybody is still trying to play and is willing to play. Just before Christmas everybody is like you don't practice for next year, burned out. Your mind is on holiday, whatever. You could see that many times at the Grand Slam Cup, just came there and lost first round or just played one match and then defaulted, whatever. Just many things happen, which is understandable if you have a year, 26, 27 tournaments. That's what I'm saying, it's not a Christmas event. It becomes a tennis event.

Q. Did you ever think about playing Indianapolis instead of coming here to practice?

THOMAS MUSTER: Playing singles, you mean? Indianapolis, not New Haven,. It was not in my consideration.

Q. A couple of years Agassi and Sampras dominated the Open (inaudible)?

THOMAS MUSTER: (Inaudible) dominated the French. Well, as I said, Americans like to play in the states, they grew up on hardcourts, that's why they play better here. They probably dominate this tournament. In Europe it's a bit different in the last years, except Courier, Jim is probably one of the few guys who really enjoys playing Europe, too. So I don't know what's going to happen at the US Open this year because Agassi is still a question mark, Sampras hasn't really played as long as expected maybe, which, I don't know, we don't know why. Maybe he's still suffering a bit, you know, from the death of his coach, which is understandable, too. I don't know, you know, I can't speak for him. We really don't know because we have all different Grand Slam winners this year. Surprises actually, every Grand Slam win was a surprise. Becker wasn't expected to win -- wasn't supposed to be the winner at the Australian Open. I think it's going to be interesting Slam, the last one.

Q. Do you feel you were unfairly attacked when the whole controversy came up about No. 1? You were just playing your matches and your schedule, and that's the way the ranking system was made up. It wasn't like you picked it to be No. 1?

THOMAS MUSTER: As I said many times, we're playing the system and the system we have to respect. We players made the system, so we cannot complain about it. It's like the ATP Tour, are we supposed to be ATP Tour, we can't complain. The system evolved and we choose. That's it. About being No. 1 or not, deserve it or not, that's what the computer prints out on each Monday, that's the reality. That's what you have to face, that's it. It's not that I became No. 1 because somebody else played bad, it's just because I had a great 1995 season. The follow-up was being No. 1. But then by winning Mexico City, I became No. 1 on my own. Even the rumor I haven't won a match as No. 1 is wrong because in Estoril I won a tournament, which was the only claycourt tournament I played when I was No. 1. Well, that was the tournament I won, so I proved that, that I can win matches even as No. 1. I mean, it's just a lot of talking going on. Andre and myself sorted those problems out in Monte-Carlo. We had a talk. Everything is all right. I think I'm respected. That's fine. We're tennis players, doing our job. I'm happy that I'm one of the best at the moment, and that's it. As I said, I cannot choose the ranking system by myself. That I'm just a claycourt player I would say is unfair to me. I've played well on grass this year, played well in Cincinnati on hardcourts, won Essen last year, which is the biggest indoor event we had on the ATP Tour. As I said, Americans play better on this surface and Europeans on clay.

JOE LYNCH: He did beat Sampras in the semifinals in Essen on carpet.

THOMAS MUSTER: That's one thing that we have to say, how many Americans did really play well in Europe this year? And the other way around? It's kind of a problem you maybe have.

Q. Thomas, do you take any pleasure in knowing how happy this tournament is probably to have you here with the three players they lost in singles at the last minute, to have you in the doubles? I never got the sense that (inaudible)?

THOMAS MUSTER: Talk to my manager (laughter). Anyway, as I said, I'd like to play doubles here. I'm happy that I can take the opportunity to practice this week. It's sort of neat anyway for me because I can balance my practice schedule better than my single's schedule if I would play here. There's a lot more stress playing matches because you're forcing your body more, and in practice you can sort of get your hours, if you want.

Q. (Inaudible)?

THOMAS MUSTER: After playing last year, all the tournaments, doing well, my goal this year was to stay in the top ten and get about 2,000, 2,500 points. So far I've reached more than my goals, over 2,800 points. I said, "Okay, what can I lose? I can only win when I play those big tournaments. If I do well, prove myself I can do well at the Open, play the Super 9s." So far it's working out all right. It's quite a difference the last two years.

Q. What has been the difference in the last two years? What brought your game to where it is now?

THOMAS MUSTER: Everything, I think. Maybe it's experience, that my body is holding up better. I've improved my service game. I've improved my ground strokes which are not so much topspin anymore. Clay is still my natural surface, that's where I grew up. But I think all those our surfaces now I've adjusted better to. I'm quite confident the way I'm playing, I mean, on all kind of surfaces. I've played on all different surfaces this year and I've done all right.

Q. Was that kind of your goal this year, just to prove yourself as a multi-faceted player, talk down some of the skeptics?

THOMAS MUSTER: No, it's not to prove anybody wrong. I know what I'm able to do. I know that without my accident in '89, which I had, I could have played many, many more hardcourt tournaments. It's just the way it is and I have to face it. That's why I have to play the surface which is best for my body and keeps me as long as possible on the Tour. That's clay. Whatever I will be able to do, you know, on other surfaces, it's a kind of bonus for me. That's it.

Q. You talk about the controversy. A lot of people don't appreciate how tough it was for you to come back from that accident.

THOMAS MUSTER: Well, I mean, that's one part. You know, having two careers, one before and one after. I was very happy after my accident I could come back at the age of 27, 28, to be in the top of the game. Took me years to get there because I was banged up, took me a long time to come back. Even right after the accident, a year after, I was 6 in the world again. Then I had a burnout because of all the practice I did and the comeback, rehabilitation, playing, put a lot of stress on my body, my mental strength. It took me almost two years to recover from that. That's what I'm saying. I'm very happy at the age of 27 or 28 to reach the No. 1 position, winning the Slam last year and all this. I'm very happy the way everything came together and at the end everything worked out as I dreamed. Nothing to fear, nothing to look back and say, "Well, I didn't try a hundred percent, didn't reach this goal or that." I think I've done as good as I can. That's something I want to say later on. I don't want to leave anything open there that I could have done probably better here or there, I gave it a hundred percent, that's it.

Q. (Inaudible).

THOMAS MUSTER: That's it. But you have to play on all surfaces today if you want to be on the top. I had to find other ways, which are probably more harder to reach because I have to play any chance, have to take any chance to get points, Umag, San Marino. There are just a few left and the claycourt season is done in two months. Last year won every single claycourt tournament on the biggest events, otherwise you'll not be able to reach the top ten position. Look at Alberto Costa. The players are doing well and they can't get to the top ten.

JOE LYNCH: Last year Thomas play 25 events, 14 on clay, 11 split between hard and carpet. Two more questions.

Q. Did you ever consider not returning to tennis, doing something else? Was it ever too difficult?

THOMAS MUSTER: I was too young to stop at that time, to believe that I had to stop. Easily could have happened. Many times I was practicing and nothing was really going my way. I said, "Well, this is probably it." I don't know. I probably finished my career 100 times mentally and came back 200 times.

Q. What kept you coming back?

THOMAS MUSTER: Well, every time I said, "I'm going to stop," I missed it. Once I didn't play for five and a half months, with the injury. I knew how much I missed the competition. I'm happy I continued every time. If I would have stopped at the age of 26, I would have no more goal. I said, "This is probably it." My coach knew right away, because I wanted to stop when I was 26. He said, "Well, then stop. You have the power to do it." Then he said, "But you have another chance. You have to change your game and you go on and keep playing. You give it a shot and try your best, take a hundred percent and change your game and have the will to change it." I went on holiday for four weeks and I made up my mind. I said, "Okay, I'm going to take the risk." The year after, I won the French, was the No. 3 player in the world, I don't know how many other tournaments, 12. I've won six this year. I would have missed all this, you see. I know -- now I respect my coach. At the time when he said, "Continue playing, try to change the game," I said, "You think at 26 I'm going to change my game, you're a fool."

Q. Did you actually practice in a chair when you were first injured?


Q. For a long time?

THOMAS MUSTER: Two and a half months.

JOE LYNCH: Last question.

Q. Your personality on the court, we did a survey last year, ATP survey, which player they least liked.

THOMAS MUSTER: It was me. I was in the top spot or top three, is that it?

Q. How do you respond to that?

THOMAS MUSTER: I would just ask you why? Did you ask those people why? You ask them why they unlike?

Q. Not on this thing. It's sort of just like numbers, you compile a list.

THOMAS MUSTER: I just want to know why, you see. I mean, I have an image in ten years. Once you have an image, you can't get rid of it. Whatever you do, it doesn't matter. An experience like last week in Cincinnati, people come up and say, "We've read in the paper that you unliked." It's like, "Thanks for letting me know." Once you have this reputation, you can't get rid of it. Everybody I talked to, it's like they say, "We never thought of you this way." Just maybe the people never talk to me, they read the paper, they get the idea. If you read something all the time, you start believing it, you see. That's just one point. It's true, I mean, when I'm on court I'm competitive and I try everything to win. I don't think out of 100 guys or 200 guys out there, probably 20 have really talked to me. Small talk and say, "Good morning, you have a good breakfast this morning?" There's always a bit of jealousy because it's a big competition. That's it. Once you're a top guy, you're not liked too much. The problem is if you're too nice, you're not going to win.

Q. Can you tell us how your life as changed being the No. 1 player? Besides having your name in the papers. Is there a privacy issue?

THOMAS MUSTER: My life has not changed at all. When I won the French, I was happy. I was ten years on the Tour already, experienced, old enough, mature to take it. I had no problem handling the situation. I don't have a problem to handle the situation, being No. 1 in the world. For me, it's no problem. I've had money before, didn't change my life. I had all kinds of things before. I've been through a lot in my career. Being No. 1, even winning a Slam, is not changing my life. Ms. Ferguson, who is a friend of mine, it's fine, but there's nothing else, just a story. We went out for dinner a few times and that's it. There's no relationship or anything. It was something the papers made up and was obviously a good story to sell, that's fine. I have a girlfriend. There's no story behind this. I think people start realizing now that there's really no story behind it. They stop writing about it. I guess sooner or later this is going to stop.

Q. More demands on your time?

THOMAS MUSTER: Usually I spend two minutes, now I spend 15 here. That's the only change. There's more media attention. You're recognized more because you're more in the papers, more on the air. Certain things change, but it's not I'm getting crazy now because I'm making more money or anything. Probably would have happened when I would have been the age of 18. If you're 18, you win a Slam, you become No. 1, you become millionaire overnight, you might have problem to adjust, back to the reality. I think I still have my feet on the ground. Whatever is going to happen in my tennis career is not going to change that anymore.

JOE LYNCH: Thank you.

End of FastScripts…

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297