Thomas Muster defeated Michael Chang 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 Friday to give Davis Cup underdog Austria a 1-0 lead in its semifinal against the United States.
Showing much of the fighting spirit which has brought him back to the top 10 after being run down by a drunk driver in 1989, Muster was the eventual winner despite often looking more shaky on the court than his younger opponent."It took me a while to get into the match, but I made the most important points and that's all that counts," Muster said. "I think I played some of my best tennis in the last three sets."
Muster had trouble settling into the match, as Chang broke his service in the second game for an early 2-0 advantage. But Austria's top-ranked player pulled back to even the match 2-2 when Chang made one of his rare mistakes and netted the final point.
The Austrian then went on to squander four break points in the fifth game, when Chang's relentless patience simply wore down his opponent. Chang sealed the first set 6-4 when the Austrian slammed the final point into the net.
Muster moved quickly to seize the initiative in the second set and a delicate overhead, mid-air backhand won him a break in the second game. Chang struggled and found himself down 1-3 to the Austrian.
In the seventh game, Chang saved four break points before succumbing as Muster went on to even the match by winning the second game.
Muster also won the third set 6-2, but he had to work for it. Unlike his opponent, Chang made few mistakes and chased down many of Muster's better shots.
By then light rain was falling but play on the open-air clay court continued, although Muster said it had not bothered him.
"We are used to it," he said. "It rains often here."
A lapse of concentration by the Austrian after the third set break almost let Chang back in to the match. Muster finally scored a break in the seventh game when he crashed a forehand down the line which Chang netted to go down 3-4 in the fourth set.
Muster romped through the next without losing a point and the rest was a mere formality.