Muster Suffers Leg Injury in Accident After Winning

Times Staff Writer

Austrian tennis player Thomas Muster suffered a leg injury in a car accident less than two hours after winning a semifinal match Friday night in the International Players Championships, Miami city police said early Saturday morning.

Muster was getting something out of the trunk of a car when it was struck head-on by another car, tournament security official Bob Brandes told the Associated Press. The second car, which was driving on the wrong side of the street, pushed the parked car into Muster's leg, police said.

Muster was taken to Mercy Hospital to be treated for scratches and bruises below the knee but was not in a lot of pain, police said.

A nurse at the hospital told The Times early Saturday morning that Muster was in stable condition and was released. Further details on his condition and chances of playing in Sunday's final were not available. Tournament officials have called a news conference today.

Two people with Muster also were hurt and taken to the hospital, Brandes said. They were Wolfgang Ritschke, an Austrian photographer, and Michelle Boyd, a tournament volunteer who was driving the car. The extent of their injuries was unknown.

Their car was parked near the Bayside shopping area downtown when the accident happened. The driver of the other car tried to flee the scene but was arrested by Miami police, authorities said. The driver was not identified.

Earlier on a muggy Friday night, Muster pulled off a five-set semifinal shocker, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. He is scheduled to play Ivan Lendl in the tournament final.

Lendl, who breezed past Kevin Curren, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, in the first semifinal, beat Muster in the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Muster took advantage of an obviously tiring Noah and won in deceptively easy fashion.

"I'm not very tired," he said.

However, he looked very beaten after Noah swept the first two sets. But Muster is the type of player who can be given no second opportunities and, in the third set, the momentum switched.

"I said to myself 'Come on, there's nothing to lose anymore, he's tired, play tennis and forget about everything,' " Muster said.

Noah had two break points to go up, 2-0, and didn't, then lost his serve after twice having advantage.

"That was the beginning of the end," Noah said.

Muster said he thought before the match that if he beat Noah, it would be because he was more fit. Muster practiced until 9 p.m. Thursday night. Noah did not practice for any of his matches.

"The problem was he was making me run," said Noah, who tried to rely on his service to avoid strength-sapping rallies, but enjoyed only mixed results.

Noah served 13 aces, but he also had 11 double faults and his first serve percentage grew progressively worse. He began the fifth set with a double fault, fell to 0-40 and saved one break point before Muster hit a winning volley on the second.

The crowd was still cheering for Noah despite the score.

"That made me feel good inside, but it didn't help me run," Noah said.

After scoring a straight-set victory over baseline player Aaron Krickstein in the quarterfinals, Lendl was believed to be heading for some problems playing the big serve of Curren. He didn't.

"It's easy to play when you're healthy, relaxed and confident," Lendl said.

Lendl, who has still not lost a set in the tournament, played almost flawlessly and even hit some harder serves than Curren. Rader guns measured Lendl's average serve at 100 miles per hour and Curren's at 107.

"I never really got in the match," Curren said. "He got on top of me and stayed on top of me. The idea was to get it close and then you see the tentative Ivan Lendl. I never saw him today."

Set point in the first set was typical of the match. Curren sent a lob into the corner of the court, but Lendl ran it down and scorched a backhand crosscourt winner past a bewildered Curren standing at the net.

Lendl said he thought Curren was totally demoralized early in the second set.

"I don't think he had the spirit and the belief that he could come back," Lendl said.

Curren held a brief, 2-0 lead in the second. He broke Lendl after being down, 40-15, then proceeded to lose the next six games and the set. It got no better for Curren in the third set, losing his serve at 15 to go down, 4-2.

Ten minutes short of two hours, it was over, and Lendl surveyed the rout, but not until Curren challenged a fan in the stands to play.

Late in the third set, the male fan shouted to Curren: "You play like I do."

Curren walked over to the stands, reached into his pocket and suggested they play for $25.

Lendl, who will be playing for $110,100 in the final, allowed Curren only 16 points in 13 service games. Lendl also had four aces to Curren's one and sent Curren's first serves back hard and low.

Curren made only 51% of his first serves. So Lendl sat on Curren's second serves and returned them with wicked slice backhands.

"He was all over them," Curren said.

The world's No. 1 player even went to the net 17 times and won 14 points. He cooly hit winners down the line from either side and, once again, was never pressured.

"Whatever he wanted to hit, he hit," Curren said. "The guy's a better all-around player today than he has ever been. He's beatable, but he's really on his game.

"When you play the world's best guy, you've got to hope you're at your peak and he's a little bit off. I didn't get either one."

Tennis Notes

Ivan Lendl said that at his level, he expects to see every ball go in. "It's not being cocky or anything, but it's almost like you are surprised when your shots don't go in. That's when your confidence level goes up." And is Lendl confident? "We've seen him loose and happy and confident," Kevin Curren said. . . . If Chris Evert defeats Gabriela Sabatini in the women's final today, not only would it be her 158th singles title but it would also allow Evert to reclaim her No. 3 ranking. Sabatini has been No. 3 for a month. Evert leads the series, 6-2, but lost twice in their three matches last year. Evert's lone victory over Sabatini was in the final of the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles, the infamous "match paint" final when someone in the stands threw light bulbs filled with paint onto the court just before Evert was to serve match point.

Times staff writer Elliott Almond contributed to this story.

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