By May 1990, Muster was back in the Top 10. At a price. Worn down by rehab, he hurt his elbow and had a falling out with Leitgeb. The two were supposed to leave for Melbourne the day after Christmas to prepare for the Australian Open. Before Leitgeb headed to the airport, he heard from Muster, who told him: "I don't want to practice. I don't want to play. I won't go."
"If you won't go, bye-bye," said Leitgeb.
Muster lost a coach but regained his adolescence. He smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, put on 15 pounds and spent more time in discos than at practice. "This was serious freak-out," says Leitgeb. After dropping six straight opening-round matches on his beloved clay, Muster decided he'd had enough of the good life. His rapprochement with Leitgeb in April 1990 was painful but rewarding. "I trained the crap out of him," says Leitgeb. Six weeks later—with his rank hovering at 116—Muster won in Florence. The rest is current events.
As for the private Muster, he's...private. It is only with great reluctance that he who is known for his lack of artistry on court acknowledges his hobby: painting. Muster's masterworks—oils in the style of Miró and Kandinsky—vie for space on the walls of his Monte Carlo apartment. "They're nothing much," he says. "It's better to have something colorful on the walls than white." He's equally dismissive of his drumming: "It's mostly just noise." And what of the Ferrari in his garage? "I drive it less than 1,000 kilometers a year. It's just a toy."
His habit of clutching privacy around him like a warmup jacket makes the media pry even more vigorously. Earlier this year British tabloids linked him romantically to the Duchess of York. Rumors began to simmer after he and Fergie chatted over a beer at a bash in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar. The rumors began to boil when Fergie flew on to Australia and showed up at one of Muster's matches at the Australian Open. With British reporters clamoring for an explanation, Muster skipped practice and holed up in his hotel room until the tournament began. (Asked about the reports now, he snorts derisively. Even the tabs seem to have lost interest.)
Ducking Wimbledon again is not in Muster's plans. It's important that he broaden his image, and he'll do that with a vengeance by entering two grass court prep events before the tournament. "Borg was a baseliner," says Ivanisevic, "and he won Wimbledon five times." But Borg was quicker and had a better serve. And the player pool wasn't as deep then. "If Muster does well on grass, the rest of us will respect him more as a player," says Noteboom. He offers a rueful scowl. "As a person, I don't know."