Muster the iron man prepares Austria's clay trap for Britain

The redoubtable Thomas Muster, who once, in jest, chased Tim Henman off Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open, is wearing his intimidating game face.

The redoubtable Thomas Muster, who once, in jest, chased Tim Henman off Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open, is wearing his intimidating game face.

Approaching 37, Muster is ready to make his debut tomorrow as Austria's Davis Cup captain for the World Group play-off against Britain in this picturesque resort here. Muster is remembered as an iron man of the ATP Tour, the player whose left knee was almost severed by a drunken driver in Miami in 1989, but who was hitting balls with the aid of a leg support contraption only a week after undergoing surgery.

The former world No 1, who won the French Open in 1995, now competes against such as John McEnroe and Boris Becker on the Delta Tour of Champions, and was the first to qualify for the The Masters Tennis, to be held at the Royal Albert Hall from 30 November to 5 December.

As a Davis Cup player, Muster helped elevate his country to the World Group for the first time with a 5-0 whitewash against Britain in Zell am See in 1988. During that tie, Warren Jacques, Britain's captain, asked a mild-mannered Austrian journalist if he wanted to step outside after the reporter had brandished newspaper clippings containing remarks Jacques had made concerning Muster's level of sportsmanship.

Three years later, Muster lost in four sets to Mark Petchey as Britain defeated Austria on grass in Didsbury, Manchester.

"It will be a different feeling, sitting outside watching the players," Muster said. "You can't really act. You have to sit there you can't jump and run to get your stress out. You are just sitting there watching the players, giving them some strategy for the game. The bottom line is that there's a lot you can try to do, but in the end, really nothing."

Muster thought hard before accepting the job. "I wasn't really sure if I wanted to do it, because Gunther Bresnik had been the captain before me and had done a really good job for the team," he said. "But, his contract finished and I was asked. I had a few months to think about it and I said yes, but only if it was connected with the junior programme in Austria. I didn't want to just be captain, I want to be involved with the junior programme in the country, because tennis has not been so popular in Austria for a while."

Austria's singles players, Jurgen Melzer, Stefan Koubek and Alexander Peya, all reached the third round at the US Open. Julian Knowle, a doubles specialist, reached the Wimbledon final this year, partnering Nenad Zimonjic, of Serbia. Knowle may team up with Melzer against Britain.

Koubek, a left-hander, was burdened with being called "The Next Thomas Muster" at the start of his career. "It was quite a lot of pressure," Koubek said. "I want to be myself and be remembered as Stefan Koubek. Everyone in Austria looks up to Thomas. It's not easy to follow him, but I'm trying and I hope people are going to remember me, too."

He added: "I get along well with Thomas. We talk and I can ask him anything. In the last few months I have talked to him quite a lot because he was in Paris watching all of the matches of the Austrian and British players. I looked up to him when I was a kid - he was the best tennis player in Austria and, for a while, in the world."

Melzer said it was "a bit early to tell" what effect Muster would have on the team. "But I've heard," he added "that the 3,500 seats are sold out. Thomas brings more people to tennis. He is very professional, and he's trying to make this week as professional as possible."

Having beaten both Henman and Rusedski this year - Henman on rubberised concrete, Rusedski on clay - Melzer is confident. "There is nothing which worries me about these two players," he said.

Koubek agreed. "Henman may have reached the semi-finals of Roland Garros, but we are not going to put that kind of clay on the court," he said. "It's going to be a little bit slower, a little bit deeper, and a lot tougher to play on for the British players. I am very much looking forward to it because the British players do not play their best tennis on clay. It's not going to be easy for us, but we are going to fight to stay in the World Group."

Suggested Topics
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little