Muster, 43, defeated in ATP comeback match
VIENNA (AP)—Thomas Muster, once ranked No. 1, lost his first match in his return to the ATP Tour after 11 years away. The 43-year-old Austrian intends to resume his comeback next season.
Muster was beaten by 23-year-old and fellow Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-2, 7-6 (5) on Tuesday in the first round of the Bank Austria Trophy.
The result means that Jimmy Connors remains the oldest player to win on the ATP Tour. At 42, he reached the quarterfinals in Halle, Germany, in 1995.
Muster won the French Open in 1995 and became No. 1 the next year. He returned to competitive tennis on the second-tier Challenger circuit in June before accepting a wild card for the Vienna tournament.
“I’ll keep training hard and plan to enter 20 to 25 events from March,” Muster said.
He had been drawn to face Ernests Gulbis in the first round before the 24th-ranked Latvian pulled out Monday for personal reasons.
“I am relieved despite losing as I gave my best and played pretty well,” Muster said. “A third set would have been great, but well done to Andreas.”
Muster dropped serve in the opening game and struggled throughout the first set, failing to pressure his 157th-ranked opponent.
Muster, who won 40 of his 44 career titles on clay, was searching for the right timing of his groundstrokes on the fast indoor hard court. He found some rhythm and saved four break points to take the second set into a tiebreaker, but hit a forehand wide on Haider-Maurer’s second match point.
“There was more in it if I could have played more aggressively in the first set,” Muster said. “In the second, I managed to dictate the pace of the game sometimes.”
Earlier, James Blake of the United States lost 6-4, 6-4 to Lukasz Kubot of Poland in the first round. Kubot broke his seven-match losing streak and will next face top-seeded Jurgen Melzer, the defending champion.
Michael Berrer upset sixth-seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. The 29th-ranked Spaniard, who won in Bangkok and reached the quarterfinals in Tokyo and Shanghai this month, double-faulted 12 times.
Berrer will play Pablo Cuevas, who defeated Thiemo de Bakker 7-6 (6), 1-6, 6-4. Santiago Geraldo stopped Xavier Malisse 6-4, 1-6, 6-1, and Grega Zemlja of Slovenia rallied past Marsel Ilhan of Turkey 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.