. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Muster Lambastes American No-Shows

ROME -- Defending champion Thomas Muster, fresh from an intensive muscle-building session, strode into the second round of the Italian Open men's tennis tournament and then picked a fight with absent Americans.


"I guess some guys don't like to play in Europe. I find it amazing that all these guys are always injured at the same time of the year. It's amazing to me," the Austrian said Tuesday after dispatching compatriot Hubert Wiltschnig 6-3 6-0.


The unfortunate 20-year-old qualifier from Klagenfurt, who presumably booked his flight home as soon as the draw pitted him against the top seed, won a mere six points in a one-sided second set that lasted a shade over 20 minutes.


To add insult to injury, the scoreboard misspelled Wiltschnig's name, and Muster professed later he could not remember any Austrian beating him in his career to date.


The leading Americans -- world No. 1 Pete Sampras, No. 4 Michael Chang and No. 3 Andre Agassi -- all decided against competing in the $2.2 million clay court tournament at the Foro Italico for a variety of reasons.


Sampras had the most compelling reason, opting out after the recent death of his coach, Tim Gullikson.


Chang withdrew with a pulled chest muscle.


Muster, warming to the theme that American players were overpaid and over here, suggested that the preference of most of the Americans for hard courts over clay was a factor.


"Nobody is respecting the European clay court tournaments any more," the clay court specialist declared.


"That's something that does not make me feel very happy. I think the Europeans are very stupid to pay Americans so much money to come over here and play and then shit on our heads," he said. "That's not very nice."


The quote was later transcribed officially as "they just abuse the hospitality."


Muster arrived in Rome having ended his 38-match winning streak on clay in Hamburg earlier this month.


He said he had spent the unexpected days off lifting weights.


"I needed to build up my body. Now I feel good and ready to play again," the French Open champion said.


Three other seeds followed the Austrian into the second round. Tenth seed Marc Rosset of Switzerland beat Argentine qualifier Mariano Zabaleta 6-3 7-6 (7-2).


Sixth-seeded South African Wayne Ferreira, beat France's Guy Forget 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 and Ukrainian 14th seed Andrei Medvedev beat Christian Ruud of Norway 6-3 2-6 6-3.


Italians also finally had something to cheer about. Andrea Gaudenzi saw off Swiss Jakob Hlasek 7-5 6-1 to become the first Italian through to the second round.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)