Thought to do a little translation of a recent interview with Thomas:
“I don’t want to dance like a Punchinello”
Thomas Muster finished his career 10 years ago, avoids “Dancing Stars”, feels sorry for Boris Becker and appreciates the creativity of Rafael Nadal
Do you know what happened nearly 10 years ago on May 24th 1999?
That was probably when I called it quits in tennis. And nobody knew it. It was a 1st round loss at the French Open against Lapentti, who by the way has a brother, which is something you remember for inexplicable reasons.
Who is the current #4 in the rankings?
I have no idea. It isn’t Djokovic. Maybe a Spaniard, an Argentinean would be fine to me.
It is Djokovic.
That’s fine for him.
Let’s stay for a moment on the 24th May 1999. It must have been a defining day, right?
No. You remember birthdays, the accident in Key Biscayne on April 1st 1989. Or June 11th 1995, the victory in Paris. Those dates remain because they get raked up and you can’t escape these memories.
In May 2009 the “Musterland”, the tennisacademy in your hometown Leibnitz, virtually died. You stepped out of your own project. Why?
The chronology is well-known. It didn’t happened in Grat, there have been caveats from some dog owners. Leibnitz has been more than a replacement, but when you get told for 6 years the same things and there is no progess you flout.
Have you been financially involved in the “Musterland”?
No. It was a project for juveniles. I wanted to give something back. The Styrian association was searching for a home and the politics was in agreement. The building costs were estimated with 3,5 Million €, but later exploded. The firm with yearly charges of 750.000 € was secured because of sponsors, even before they had found a habitat. But now the world wide financial crisis happened. I couldn’t and didn’t wanted take over the responsibility and liability.
Are you frustrated?
No, it’s simply typical Austria. They build something with public funds, which doesn’t fulfill the optimal purpose. As nobody wants to lose his face another retort is coming up. I’m not mad about anyone, the politicians have supported us, but when a process takes that long, it is useless. The timing was wrong, the financial crisis isn’t to blame for everything, but does it bit. Companies can’t justify 750.00 € and let people work short-time or even sack. Especially in the shaken Styria. “Musterland” has been a phantom for a to long time.
You are engaged in many business areas. Toms Fashion, Toms Glasses, Toms Wines, Toms Mineralwater. Is this a reaction to the monotony of tennis?
No, I just search for variety. It is a profession which I take really serious.
How was the transition from professional athlete to a businessman? Did you have the famous pension shock?
No. I did nothing for 3 years and realised that the people, who I wanted to meet, didn’t have any time because they needed to work. It is no aim of life to retire. I realized in retrospect how great the sport is. You are only depending on your own performance, you get the reward immediately. In economic life you have failures, promises which get broken, people trick.
Does this sound like a longing for tennis?
No, I have never said: “Oh my God, why have I stopped to play?” The physical depletion was visible. I never wanted to be someone who people advise to retire. Hermann Maier gets a lot of such advices. I could have kept the sponsors, but I knew I wasn’t able to win any more. I didn’t wanted to lie, I’m to straightforward.
You have bever getting discussed in the gossip columns.
Boris Becker gets married soon on TV.
That’s awful. He even jumped through a burning heart. You can’t wake up every day and ask yourself: Who am I today? That’s quite daft. There are people who have to draw attention all the time. It’s something different with Niki Lauda, who is commentating Formula 1 on RTL because he know the ropes. I get asked before every season of Dancing Stars by Austrian TV if I would like to take part. I don’t want to dance like a Punchinello through the evening programme for months in order to explain the people who Thomas Muster is or has been. That would be to sad.
To design fashion you need creativity. As athlete you were seen as a hard worker who attritted the opponent. How does this go together?
Very good. Without creativity you can’t play tennis. The viewer might say it’s monotony, but there are many nuances. What is creative in Rafael Nadal? The layperson sees pure power, but I can see his real potentiality.
What goes wrong in Austrian tennis?
You have to see this relaxed. The pick on the association and the structures is vapid. We don’t have the devices. Austria is a skicountry and wants to be a soccercountry. It would be embarrassing not to be good in skiing because we can’t deny the mountains. I have only been a statistical hap.
At the weekend the ATP tournament in Kitzbühel starts. The organizer is Roland Leitgeb, your former manager, who allows free entrance. Does this make sense?
You have to ask Leitgeb. He probably tries to save the date over the time.
You are playing on the seniours tour. Isn’t this ridiculous?
It is a circus where well-known names, who can barely run anymore, appear. It isn’t ridiculous, but a whole lot of fun. The irony is that we play at all. I still don’t like to lose against Bruguera or Becker, even though I'm not nostalgic.