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SWEDE AS A NUT, ED; Slick Stefan's a Muster blaster.

Super Swede Stefan Edberg turned back the clock to dump top seed Thomas Muster out in the semi-finals of the Stella Artois Championship at Queen's.

Edberg, 30, retires at the end of the year and booked his place in his first final for nearly 12 months with a stunning 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 win over the world number two.

In the blistering heat of west London, Edberg's home for almost 10 years, clay court specialist Muster finally ran out of ideas after his spirited run to the last four.

The Austrian admitted: "I can't complain. I've been getting better every game and I've lost to one of the best grass court players in the world.

"I've had a great time on my first visit to Queen's and everyone has been very nice to me over here."

Muster did not say whether that included his occasional dinner companion, the Duchess of York, as he chose to focus on the build-up to Wimbledon which starts next Monday.

He added: "People used to think I was useless on grass but maybe I've changed a few minds about that."

Edberg broke Muster's serve in the opening game of the match and the former two-time Wimbledon winner surged into a 3-1 lead.

But Muster, last year's French Open winner, never knows when to quit and forced the first set into tie-break with a series of blistering serves and awesome passing shots.

The Austrian took the tie break 7-2 to claim the first set in 43 minutes.

Edberg, however, was determined not to go out a loser in his final appearance at a tournament he won in 1991.

He took the second set 6-3 in 30 minutes and seemed to break Muster's will.

But he had to ensure he remained at the top of his game and did just that as he claimed a 4-1 lead in the final set.

Edberg rekindled the form that has made him one of the great grass court players of all time as he outwitted his opponent from the net.

Muster held his own serve to stay in the match at 5-1 down, before Edberg earned a standing ovation as he held his nerve and serve to close out the set with his first match point.

Edberg, who has re-united with former coach Tony Pickard in a bid to make his last assault on Wimbledon a memorable one, said: "That's the best I've played for some time. Muster played very well at the beginning of the match but I came back into it and feel that I am match tight now."

Edberg has slipped to 26th in the world rankings and is unlikely to be seeded at Wimbledon, but on this form, will be the player the big names will all be hoping to avoid.

Nathalie Tauziat of France gained a repeat victory over Holland's Miriam Oremans at the DFS Classic women's grass-court tournament yesterday and declared herself ready to make a serious assault on Wimbledon.

Tauziat beat Oremans 6-2 6-3 in a 63-minute semifinal and said: "I beat Miriam in a long three-set match here at Birmingham two years ago but then I was not such a good grass-court player.

"Now I feel I can trouble the best on grass but maybe we shall find out when I defend my title at Eastbourne next week."
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Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Royce, Steve
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jun 16, 1996
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