Tomas Machac could hardly have been presented with a greater challenge in the first round at this week’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The Czech qualifier meets Novak Djokovic at the hard-court ATP 500 event, where he will try to become the first player to defeat the Serbian in the 2023 ATP Tour season.
Ahead of Machac’s clash with the World No. 1, ATPTour.com runs down five things to know about the 22-year-old.
His Sporting Idol Is Michael Jordan
Two years before Machac was born in 2000, Michael Jordan played his last game as a member of the Chicago Bulls. That hasn’t stopped the Czech from growing into a huge fan of both the Bulls and Jordan.
“It is crazy what this guy did in his career,” said Machac of Jordan in an interview with ATPTour.com last year. “His achievements, the moments he had were unbelievable. I learned [from watching him that] some days if you don’t feel well or are sick or something goes wrong, you can still fight, you can still make yourself comfortable in that moment and improve something in your game.”
His Sister’s Love Of Tennis Changed His Life
Perhaps Machac would have been destined for a future in basketball were it not for his older sister, Katerina. She fell in love with tennis as a teen and regularly competed in tournaments from when Tomas was four years old. That paved the way for his development as a tennis talent.
“I was travelling with her and with my family and I was playing against the wall every time,” said Machac. “I was playing for example six hours per day on the wall, because I didn’t want to be bored watching the tennis, so I played lots of tennis.”
He Is Good At Keepie Uppies… Even Without A Ball!
Machac’s excellent hand-eye coordination has not just helped the Czech reach a career-high No. 97 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he posted a video on Instagram demonstrating some impressive footwork with a roll of toilet paper!
He Has Past Experience Facing A World No. 1
Machac’s Dubai meeting with Djokovic will not be his first clash with a World No. 1. In 2022, the Czech faced Daniil Medvedev — who was then atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings — at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Despite a straight-sets defeat to Medevedev on that occasion, Machac has regularly showcased his ability to go toe-to-toe with some of the best on Tour. He defeated Richard Gasquet and Daniel Evans while representing the Czech Republic at the 2021 Davis Cup Finals, while he also pushed Casper Ruud to four sets at this year’s Australian Open.
He Can Always Turn To His Girlfriend For On-Court Advice
Machac doesn’t have to look far for tips on how he can make a greater mark on professional tennis. His girlfriend is Czech WTA star Katerina Siniakova, who has a career-high singles ranking of No. 31 and is three-time tour-level titlist. She is also the current World No. 1 in doubles, having won 20 tour-level titles, including seven Grand Slams.
“She’s a really good player,” Machac told ATPTour.com. “She’s had an unbelievable career… So I’m learning a lot from her.”
Machac added: “She’s a fighter, and she never leaves any point in the game. She plays every point.”