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  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  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.