Former World No. 1 Thomas Muster will make his return to the ATP World Tour for the first time in more than a decade as a wild card at next week’s Bank Austria TennisTrophy in Vienna. Muster, who celebrated his 43rd birthday earlier this month, will be the first player aged 40 and over to compete in a tour-level main draw since a 43-year-old Jimmy Connors played in Atlanta in 1996. Connors won his last ATP World Tour match in June 1995 at Halle. “I’m looking forward to it enormously,” Muster told Austria’s Krone. “I want to inspire the crowd with my fitness and fighting spirit. I’m fighting like in the good old times and I will give everything in front of the fans in Vienna.”
Muster made his last tour-level appearance in June 1999 at Roland Garros – the site of his lone Grand Slam triumph in 1995 – and bowed out to Nicolas Lapentti in the first round. His last match win on the ATP World Tour came against Thomas Johansson two months earlier at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. The Leibnitz-native has contested the Bank Austria TennisTrophy on 13 occasions and reached the final three times (1998, 1993, 1995). He made his debut at the ATP World Tour 250 indoor hard-court tournament in October 1984 as a 17 year old ranked No. 381 in world, and made a second-round exit on his last appearance 12 years ago (l. to Rusedski). Muster, a winner of 44 tour-level titles, returned to professional tennis earlier this year, compiling a 1-6 record at ATP Challenger Tour events. He re-entered the South African Airways ATP Rankings for the first time since May 2000 after defeating Borut Puc in the first round of the Ljubljana Challenger in September.