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Legendary finals in Vienna: 1988 - Horst Skoff wrestles Thomas Muster

The Erste Bank Open 2021 starts next Monday in the Wiener Stadthalle. We look back on a couple of finals that have made their mark on the memories of tennis fans. Like the one between Horst Skoff and Thomas Muster in 1988.

by Jens Huiber
last edit: Oct 21, 2021, 09:34 pm

Horst Skoff - Vienna Champion 1988
© GEPA Pictures
Horst Skoff - Vienna Champion 1988

In English, Horst Skoff and Thomas Muster would have been called a “Do not invite together couple”, a couple that shouldn't necessarily be invited to a dignified evening event in the same room. Muster, born in 1967, and Skoff, born in 1968, who died much too early in 2008 in Hamburg, came on the ATP tour at around the same time and celebrated their first successes almost at the same time. Somehow it seemed clear early on that little Austria would be too small for two alpha animals like Muster and Skoff. The duels on the court were bitter, the joint Davis Cup weekends were reportedly rarely frictionless.

And so it seems all the more important to stake out one's benefices in the home market. Preferably with a win at one of the home tournaments. And best of all in the final against the big rival. Skoff and Muster were presented with this opportunity in the Wiener Stadthalle in 1988, the Carinthian, for whom the very fast conditions at the time were a little better than Muster, won with a 4: 6, 6: 3, 6: 4 and 6: 2 Title in the town hall.

Skoff unset to the title

It was Skoff's first match win against Muster, four more should follow before the Styrian took over the scepter again. After finishing their careers the balance was 6: 5 in favor of Thomas Muster. The left-hander started as the favorite in 1988 and, after a difficult opening win against Martin Laurendeau, defeated Alex Antonitsch, the third strong, young Austrian in the league, in round two.

After the success against Marian Vajda, the current coach of Novak Djokovic, it came to the acid test against Kevin Curren in the semifinals. The 6: 4 and 6: 4 on the fast track came as a surprise in this clarity.
Horst Skoff, on the other hand, opened successfully against Joakim Nyström, but then had bigger problems with Sergio Casal. Against Jonas Svensson and Andrey Chesnokov things went more smoothly, the success against Muster in the final gave Skoff his second tournament success of the year after the victory in Athens, two more should follow in Geneva (1990) and in Bastad (1993).

Muster loses two more finals in Vienna

Thomas Muster really got off to a flying start after the bankruptcy against Skoff, won in 1995 in Roland Garros - and also had two more chances in Vienna. In 1993 it was close to the service gunner Goran Ivansevic, two years later Muster failed because of the surprise man Filip de Wulf.

In 1988 there was even an Austrian one-two: Antonitsch and Balazs Taroczy won the title in pair skating in the third set against Tomas Smid and Kevin Curren.

by Jens Huiber

Oct 23, 2021, 08:05 am
last edit: Oct 21, 2021, 09:34 pm