With that triumph, the 30-year-old Muster  reached his physical limit… The Austrian was playing his best tennis between April ’95 & March ’97, having ambitions to finish a season at the top. In Key Biscayne, Bruguera  regained his top form of the years 1993-94 after very disappointing ’96 season, especially regarding the ATP ranking (he advanced to the final at the Olympics ’96, but that event wasn’t still awarded by ATP points then). The Spaniard had defeated two main favorites to the Key Biscayne title (Michael Chang, Pete Sampras), and led 6:4* in the 1st set tie-break vs Muster. He missed a backhand return by a few inches then, Muster saved another set point forcing an error. At 6-all Bruguera lost a point on serve he absolutely should have won, because played an overhead standing one meter in front of the net (Muster lobbed him to force a backhand error). The Spaniard couldn’t regroup in the dazzling sun (41°C at the court level) after a punishing defeat in the opener, and Muster took the next two sets easily, albeit had to save two break points serving at 5:3 in the 2nd set. Bruguera almost finished the 1-hour 52-minute match producing three double faults in a row. “After I lost my big chances in the first set, I got very down in my mind,” said Bruguera, who made 48 unforced errors. The second-seeded Muster, whose victory was worth $360,000, said: “I knew the first set was probably going to be the deciding factor in the match, a big mental factor. From that moment he just went down and down and down.” It was their second ‘Mercedes Super 9’ final, following Rome ’95. Muster will reach only two finals afterwards (Cincinnati ’97 & Estoril ’98).
Muster’s route to his 44th and last title:
2 Grant Stafford 6-4, 2-6, 6-1
3 Tommy Haas 6-1, 6-2
4 Alex Corretja 6-4, 6-4
Q Jonas Bjorkman 7-5, 6-2
S Jim Courier 6-3, 6-4
W Sergi Bruguera 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-1
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