Five things on Andy Murray’s Wimbledon rival Tomas Machac

In Sports
July 01, 2024



PRAGUE:

Two-time champion Andy Murray begins his Wimbledon farewell on Tuesday against Tomas Machac.

AFP Sport looks at five things to know about Machac, the Czech world number 38.

The 23-year-old has beaten Murray twice this year, first in straight sets at Marseille and then in a dramatic three-setter at Miami. He thus improved his record against Britons — in his first appearance at Wimbledon last year, he lost to Cameron Norrie in four sets in the first round.

Machac has since recorded several notable wins, including defeating Novak Djokovic on the Geneva clay in three sets in May. Machac became only the sixth player since the ATP rankings were introduced to beat the world number one despite losing a set to love.

Machac first entered the Top 100 in 2022, finishing the year as the world number 97. He has since climbed to a career-high of 33 earlier this month. Machac has yet to win an ATP singles title.

He has an impressive Davis Cup record of seven wins and one loss in singles.

Machac has also climbed to a career-high 56th spot in doubles after having teamed up with China’s Zhang Zhizhen for this year.

“It was great,” Machac said after they reached the Australian Open semi-finals. “It’s great fun playing with him.”

Even more fun beckons in mixed doubles, for which Machac has teamed up with multiple Grand Slam champion Katerina Siniakova, his compatriot — and girlfriend.

The two have been partners since early 2021, according to Czech media. They first played together at the Australian Open in 2022.

In the first round of this year’s French Open, Siniakova hit Machac on the head from behind with a mighty backhand. Machac made the crowd laugh with a theatrical fall as he feigned unconsciousness.

“I was lucky not to be looking the other way, it would have been much worse if I got hit between the eyes,” Machac then said while Siniakova apologised profusely. “But it was quite a blow!”

Siniakova, who is four years older, has won five singles titles and 27 doubles titles, including eight Grand Slam titles, mostly with compatriot Barbora Krejcikova. The world number 27 for singles and five for doubles also won the Olympic doubles title with Krejcikova at Tokyo 2020.

“Katerina has achieved so much, especially in doubles. I don’t reach up to her ankles,” said Machac.

“I’m gradually beginning to prove to myself that I can do this too, but I still have a long way to go.”

Machac’s coach Daniel Vacek, a former doubles specialist, was charged over an alleged abuse of government subsidies earlier this year.

Vacek, who had won three Grand Slam doubles titles and 25 ATP tournaments, was detained and released in February.

His doubles partner Vojtech Flegl and Czech Tennis Federation (CTS) head Ivo Kaderka spent three months in pre-trial detention before being released in May.

Police charged five people and five companies in total over an abuse of subsidies provided by the government to the CTS.

Machac started playing tennis at age five, hitting the wall while his older sister played. The ATP website says his favourite tournament is Wimbledon, while his idols are Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

A Queen and Harry Potter fan, Machac likes reading, studying and watching history shows. His favourite meal is schnitzel. He has also confessed to a fear of snakes and spiders.

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