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Irate Austrians Walk Away From Davis Cup

Associated Press

Thomas Muster, incensed over being cursed and spit at by spectators, accused Brazilian fans of acting “like animals” after he stormed off the court in protest during the Davis Cup.

Muster, who defaulted the match, said fans in Sao Paolo also threw things at the players Saturday, and Austrian officials heard death threats.

He walked off with Austria trailing 2-0 in the final set of doubles, giving Brazil a 2-1 lead. When his Austrian teammates refused to play Sunday’s reverse singles, Brazil was awarded a 4-1 victory and a place in next season’s World Group.

“It was absolutely impossible for me to go out on court again,” Muster told the Austria Press Agency. “For 3-1/2 hours, we were sworn at, had things hurled at us, spat upon. I want police protection and never again to play here.”

“This country should finally be punished,” he said. “If this is Davis Cup, I don’t want anything more to do with it. I’m only concerned about the security. The people here are like animals. If I’m disqualified, it doesn’t matter to me.”

Muster also complained that a spectator was blinding him with a mirror in his doubles match with Udo Pamberger against Brazil’s Jaime Oncins and Gustavo Kuerten.

Peter Nader, secretary of the Austrian Tennis Federation, told The Associated Press the Austrian team first agreed to play Sunday if no spectators were allowed. The request was denied.

Christian Ransmayr, vice president of the Austrian Tennis Federation, questioned the level of security.

“The security guarantee of the Brazilians was too little for us, we wanted the ITF to assume 100 percent responsibility, they refused,” he said. “(Saying) ‘I kill you’ is a punishable crime in our country. It’s not excluded that we’ll be barred (from the Davis Cup), but we’ll live with that.”

Markus Hipfl, an Austrian in his first Davis Cup series, would have been scheduled to play Sunday.

“No matter what would have happened, I’m not going on court here any more,” he told APA.

Austrian team coach Ronald Leitgeb said the ITF should take action against Brazil because of its fans’ history of misbehavior.

“The ITF has learned nothing from the past,” he told APA.

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