Tennis: Defeat for Muster on clay

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Thomas Muster, for so long regarded as virtually unbeatable on clay, was surprisingly beaten on his favourite surface when he lost 6-1, 6-2 to Hicham Arazi in the third round of the German Open yesterday. Arazi, a 23-year-old Moroccan who is based in France, has won only one title in his four years on the tour.

Muster, No 3 in the world, compiled a 111-5 record on clay in 1995-96, including a 40-match winning streak, the second longest in the open era. Of his 44 career titles, 40 have come on clay.

In stark contrast, Boris Becker has never won a tournament on the surface in his otherwise illustrious career. He was also beaten, going down to Felix Mantilla, 7-6, 6-2.

Becker, Wimbledon champion three times, was frustrated by the spectacular passing shots of the Spaniard as he attempted to progress in an event he has failed to win 11 times.

Neither Becker nor Mantilla was happy when the umpire, Steve Ullrich, called a rain break at 6-6 in the tie-break. It drizzled lightly most of the day, and while Becker and Mantilla were sent to the locker rooms, play continued on outside courts.

When they returned, Mantilla passed Becker with a backhand. Becker broke his racket and served with a new one, but Mantilla hit another superb backhand passing return off Becker's second serve that clinched the set.

In the second, a Becker forehand error put Mantilla a break up, and he whipped in another backhand passing shot to seize a 4-1 lead. A forehand winner gave Mantilla the match. Marcelo Rios, champion in Monte Carlo last week, lost to another Spaniard, Alberto Berasategui, 6-4, 6-2.

Martina Hingis, who injured her knee falling off a horse last month, says she expects to be fit for the French Open. The 16-year-old Swiss world No 1, has been forced to pull out of three tournaments since suffering the injury on 21 April . Despite fears that she could also miss the French Open, Hingis said that she was optimistic about making her return at the Grand Slam tournament starting 26 May.

Results, Digest, page 29