rg96stich_muster

rg96stich_muster

Points won by each set: | 26-30, 44-41, 30-19, 42-38 |
Points won directly behind the serve:
31 % Stich – 45 of 143
11 % Muster – 15 of 127

Muster had been an overwhelming favorite to win the French Open ’95, one year later as a defending champion he had alongside an aura of invincibility again #. He’d lost one match clay-court match ’96 (to Moya in Munich), nevertheless it seemed that again no-one could beat him in Paris. I thought that Albert Costa was the only match who could do this, but the Spaniard lost already in the 2nd round. Stich [16] had his prime behind, problems with injuries, and he arrived in Paris with an abysmal 1-1 record on clay that year. Therefore everything indicated that Muster [2] should have won that encounter in straight sets; Stich’s victory was almost unimaginable at 4-6, 2:3* (15/40), but Muster’s two casual errors allowed the German to break back. Stich was able to produce absolutely inspired tennis on a good day throughout his career, and from 3-all in the 2nd set he found the peak of his game – second serve aces, forehand winners all over the place, interesting changes of pace with stop-volleys/dropshots… Anyway the confused Austrian led 5:2* in the 4th set – Stich broke back again, escaped in two service games being two points away from the decider, and completely outplayed his peer in the tie-break which he won 7/1 finishing it with a firm FH volley. I’d say it’s one of Stich’s most impressive wins: the first two come from Wimbledon ’91 when he defeated the best grass-court players at the time (Edberg, Becker), the third from Frankfurt ’93 when he triumphed over the best indoor guy of the 90s – Sampras, and the fourth it’s that 4th round victory against “king of clay” of years 1995-96.

# Comparison of Muster’s clay-court season entering Roland Garros:
1995: record 28-0
1996: record 29-1

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