Tomas Machac admitted it was "special" to face "legend" Novak Djokovic and revealed that he was impressed with what the Serb was displaying in the most moments of the match. In February, Machac won two qualifying matches to reach the Dubai main draw, where he drew Djokovic.
Going into the match, 23-year-old Machac was the huge underdog. But the Czech came to play as Djokovic was made to fight hard before securing a 6-3 3-6 7-6 (1) win. Reflecting on that match, Machac says he remembers well Djokovic putting it in another gear late in the third set and basically not giving him a chance to win what was a very tight match.
Machac recalls a tight Dubai match against Djokovic
"I knew that I had the level to compete against the best, but it is always special to face a legend like Novak, the best player. The normal thing, when you face someone like that, is to be a little nervous.
Everyone is and that was the case for me too. After the first set I started to feel the ball much better, to have a lot of confidence in my game. In the third set I was losing 4-2 or 3-1, I don't remember, but I was able to break serve and tie the match.
That's when I saw Novak's true level of tennis: after breaking his serve, I didn't have any opportunity to get close to his serve, not even in the tiebreak, I was always the one in tow. He saw it, he felt it and that's why he's the best: even when you start playing better, he's able to find another gear.
It was a great experience for me, I showed myself that I have the level to play against, I would say, the best of all time," Machac told Punto de Break. Machac, who finished the season ranked at No 79 in the world, did not have any meetings against Djokovic after Dubai.
In 2023, Machac established himself as a regular participant in the main-level events. It remains to be seen if Machac will get to face Djokovic again next year.