Thomas Muster signs off with Austrian Open defeat

Thomas Muster
Muster soaks up the applause of the Austrian crown after his final match

Former French Open champion Thomas Muster received a 10-minute standing ovation after finally retiring from tennis at the age of 44.

Muster lost his first round match 6-2 6-3 to 18-year-old Dominic Thiem at the Austrian Open in Vienna.

After playing his 896th professional match Muster said: "At the beginning I didn't know if to cry or to play."

Muster dominated clay in the early 1990s and lost only one Davis Cup match on the surface.

The Austrian, who won 44 singles titles in a glittering career that peaked with his 1995 win at Roland Garros, first quit the sport in 1999, but returned to the tour in 2010, entering the Vienna tournament as a wildcard.

Muster was runner-up in the Vienna event in 1988 - five years before his opponent Thiem was born.

After losing the first set, Muster went 3-1 up in the second set and showed glimpses of his glory days and his heavy top-spin forehand.

Thiem reeled him back in and won a long rally to level at 3-3. Muster then sunk a backhand into the net on the first match point but the result seemed to matter less as he clapped and waved, soaking up the crowd's standing ovation on an emotional evening.

After taking his final curtain call in front of 7,500 fans Muster made an emotional courtside speech, reflecting on his return.

"I loved it because it was great to see myself every week playing better, playing Challengers and winning a few matches, but also practicing with the guys and getting out there every morning and doing my job," he said.

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