Tomas Machac is already capturing the headlines in his native Czech Republic and it won’t be long before the 20-year-old grabs global attention. The surging #NextGenATP star won his second ATP Challenger Tour title on Sunday, lifting the trophy in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
Machac rallied from a set down to defeat Sebastian Ofner 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the Forte Challenger 125 final. He needed two hours and 22 minutes for the victory, saving 11 of 13 break points to overcome the Austrian. The Czech vaulted to a career-high No. 137 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and took another step towards a debut appearance at the Next Gen ATP Finals, moving up to fifth in the ATP Race To Milan.
“I fought for every ball and played my best tennis,” said Machac. “I want to thank everybody who helped me to get here, my coaches and my team. Without them, I would not be winning two Challengers. Ofner played well and was aggressive with his serve and forehand. I won fighting today.
“The first set is always tough in the final. It’s not about the tennis, it’s about the mentality. He was serving too good in the beginning. I just fought and kept fighting until the end. This tournament is great and I will always be happy to come back.”
It was an impressive week for Machac, upsetting Nur-Sultan I champion Mackenzie McDonald and top seed Soonwoo Kwon in the second round and quarter-finals, respectively. He conceded a mere eight games in those two matches combined. A pair of three-set victories over Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ofner would follow for the Czech, who claimed his second Challenger crown (Koblenz 2020) and first of the year.
Machac, who was sitting outside the Top 250 of the FedEx ATP Rankings one year ago, is closing in on a Top 100 debut thanks to a strong start to 2021. In January, the 20-year-old qualified for his first Australian Open without dropping serve, facing just two break points in three matches. And he would win his first Grand Slam match in the main draw, defeating Mario Vilella Martinez in four sets.
That came after spraining his ankle on the first day of hard quarantine in Melbourne. It did not completely heal during the two-week period and he was not able to train properly, even after emerging from the hotel. Despite that, he would reach the second round at Melbourne Park and pushed World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini to four sets.
Now, Machac is up to a career-high No. 137 in the FedEx ATP Rankings with his victory in Nur-Sultan. Coached by two-time Roland Garros doubles champion Daniel Vacek, the 20-year-old is one of six #NextGenATP winners already in 2021.
“During the quarantine in 2020 I didn’t play a lot because I was injured, but after the COVID break I kept improving every week. Last March, when I won my first title, I was ranked something like 350. One year later, I’m around 130. I know the ranking is just a number, but the most important thing is to improve with my tennis and the results will come.”