Monte Carlo Flashback: Thomas Muster sails past Henri Leconte in semis



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Monte Carlo Flashback: Thomas Muster sails past Henri Leconte in semis

On April 1, 1989, Thomas Muster experienced one of the worst days of his life. The Austrian was hit by a drunk driver in Miami just a couple of hours following the semi-final victory. With a nasty left knee injury, the Austrian went home and underwent surgery.

Muster stayed away from the court until September and started all over in 1990 with the Adelaide title. From the end of February, Thomas opted to play on clay instead of flying to Indian Wells and Miami, winning two Challengers and one ATP title in Cairo, Casablanca and Agadir to move closer to a place in the top-20 again.

The Austrian did not play well in Estoril and Barcelona before entering the first Masters 1000 tournament on clay in Monte Carlo. Thomas produced five rock-solid victories to find himself in the title match. Marcelo Filippini, Martin Jaite, Jim Courier and Juan Aguilera took only 24 games against Muster in eight sets, as the Austrian advanced into the semis.

Seeking the final spot, the Austrian ousted world no. 152 Henri Leconte 6-2, 6-3 to remain on the title course. The struggling Frenchman had barely scored ATP wins before Monte Carlo that year. He found form in front of the home fans and tried to become the first French champion in Monte Carlo since Pierre Darmon in 1963!

Nonetheless, Muster proved too strong in the semi-final clash, beating Leconte 6-2, 6-3 in an hour and 12 minutes to advance into the final against Andrei Chesnokov.

Thomas Muster beat Henri Leconte in Monte Carlo 1990.

The Austrian had the upper hand from start to finish.

He controlled the pace on serve and return and preserved energy for the week's most crucial encounter, as Leconte could not stay on the court longer. Muster grabbed five breaks, gave serve away once and never felt pressure from the other side of the court.

Henri netted a forehand in the first game to suffer an instant break before creating three return chances in the next one. He squandered them and pushed Thomas 2-0 in front. Leconte got his name on the scoreboard with a smash winner in the third game and earned more opportunities on the return a few minutes later.

Muster stayed calm and opened a 3-1 gap. In game six, an incredible lob winner delivered a hold at love for the Austrian. He maintained his advantage and landed another lob winner to grab another break and open a 5-2 gap. Serving for the set, Muster fended off a break chance with a volley winner at the net and wrapped up the encounter's first part with a backhand winner for 6-2.

Like in the opener, Leconte had to play from a break down right from the start, giving serve away in the first game and pushing Muster a set and a break up. The Frenchman broke back in the fourth game to level the score at 2-2 before spraying a forehand mistake in the next one to fall behind again.

Thomas moved 4-2 up with a solid forehand attack and placed a forehand winner in the eighth for 5-3. Muster delivered another break a few minutes later when Leconte sent a volley long to celebrate the victory and book a place in the final.