Hall of fame: When the original 'King of Clay' won the Dubai Duty Free Tennis title in 1997

Austrian Thomas Muster defeated top seed and overwhelming favourite Goran Ivanisevic in straight sets

By Joy Chakravarty

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Thomas Muster of Austria during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. — AFP file
Thomas Muster of Austria during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. — AFP file
  • Name - Thomas Muster
  • Nationality - Austria
  • Champion - 1997

Published: Mon 27 Feb 2023, 8:57 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Feb 2023, 9:20 PM

The solidly-built Austrian, the original ‘King of Clay’ who became the first player from his country to win a Grand Slam title in the 1995 French Open, was among the first superstars of the game who started patronising the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships from the first year of its playing and continued to be a regular until 1999.

Muster was the second seed in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 1993 when he reached the semifinal and fell to the eventual champion, Czech Karel Novacek.

Among his 44 ATP titles, is the 1997 win in Dubai. The then 30-year-old had struggled in the previous years and lost in the first round in 1996 (as the top seed), and also in 1995 (to wildcard Pat Cash).

However, Muster, who reached the world No.1 ranking in November the year before, was always known for his grit and determination. And he showed it in Dubai in 1997.

The second seed Muster took out Christian Ruud in a tough three-setter in the quarterfinals, and then eclipsed American hardcourt specialist Jim Courier in another three-setter in the quarterfinals.

He then faced the top seed and overwhelming favourite Goran Ivanisevic, who was gunning for a second consecutive Dubai Duty Free title. That did not happen as Muster stopped the big-serving Croatian in straight sets, 7-5, 7-6 (3).

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