Miloslav Mečíř

Miloslav Mečíř (born May 19 1964) is a former professional tennis player from Slovakia. He is best remembered for having won the men's singles Gold Medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics for the former Czechoslovakia, and for having played in two Grand Slam singles finals.


Mečíř was born in Bojnice, Czechoslovakia now Slovakia.

He reached two ATP finals in 1984 and began 1985 by beating Jimmy Connors in the semi final at Philadelphia, before losing to World No. 1 John McEnroe in the final. He won his first ATP singles title in Rotterdam later that year, and ended 1985 ranked just outside the world's top 10.

He consolidated his position as a world class player in 1986, beating rising Stefan Edberg in straight sets at Wimbledon, before losing to defending champion Boris Becker in the quarter finals. He reached his first Grand Slam final at the US Open later that year, where he faced fellow Czechoslovakian, defending champion and World No. 1 Ivan Lendl. The 1986 U.S. Open was notable for the fact that four players from Czechoslovakia competed in the two singles finals for men and women - Mečíř and Lendl, Helena Suková and Martina Navrátilová. Lendl won the match in straight sets 6–4, 6–2, 6–0. Mečíř's 1986 U.S. Open final appearance was the last major final to see a player still using a wooden racket.

Mečíř improved further in 1987, winning six singles and six doubles titles. He met Lendl again in three high profile matches that year, winning the final of the Lipton International Players Championships in Key Biscayne, Florida, while Lendl won the final of the German Open in Hamburg and the semi-finals of the French Open.

By this time, Mečíř's sedate playing style was known to frustrate a lot of the more powerful top ranked players. The Swedish players, in particular, were said to dislike playing against him.

Mečíř was on top form at Wimbledon in 1988, where he defeated Mats Wilander in the quarter-final. It was Wilander's only Grand Slam singles defeat of the year (he won the 1988 Australian Open, French Open and US Open) yet Mečíř beat him 6–3 6–1 6–3, entertaining the Wimbledon crowd with extraordinary displays of stroke making. Commentating on the match for the BBC, John Barrett noted that "The mental battle is certainly today being won by Mečíř - Wilander really doesn't know what to do". He took a two-set lead in the semi-final against Edberg with a similar display, and later led by a break of serve in the final set, but Edberg eventually wore him down on the way to his first Wimbledon crown.

The highlight of Mečíř's career came later in 1988 when he was selected to represent Czechoslovakia in the Seoul Olympics. In the men's singles semi-finals he exacted revenge over Wimbledon champion Edberg, in an exciting five-set match 3–6, 6–0, 1–6, 6–4, 6–2. He then met Tim Mayotte of the U.S. in the men's singles final and won in four sets 3–6, 6–2, 6–4, 6–2 to claim the Gold Medal. He also won a Bronze medal in the men's doubles, partnering Milan Šrejber.

In 1989, Mečíř reached his second Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Again he came up against Lendl and lost in straight sets 6–2, 6–2, 6–2. It was a tactical victory for Lendl, whose win saw him to reclaim the World No. 1 ranking from Wilander. After the match, Lendl apologized to the crowd, explaining that he and coach Tony Roche had decided the best tactic against Mečíř was to hit shots deep and down the centre of the court, denying his opponent the angles he thrived on.

Mečíř was a member of the Czechoslovakian teams which won the World Team Cup in 1987 and the inaugural Hopman Cup in 1989. He is currently the Slovak Davis Cup captain.

During his career, Mečíř won 11 singles titles and 9 doubles titles. His career-high world ranking in both singles and doubles was World No. 4. His total career prize money earnings was US$2,632,538. His final career singles title came in 1989 at Indian Wells. His last doubles title was also won in 1989 in Rotterdam.

By the end of the 1989 season, Mečíř was suffering from a back injury and retired in 1990, aged just 26.

Playing Style

Mečíř was a finesse player whose career straddled the transition from wooden and metal racquets towards modern graphite composites. He was noted for his touch shots as well as the ability to disguise his shots, particularly his two-handed backhand. His court coverage and graceful footwork earned him the nickname "The Big Cat". The French called him "Le Prestidigitateur" (The Conjuror).

Many top players used to cite Mečíř as the one player they most enjoyed watching because of his beautifully simple style and touch. Interestingly, he was known as the "Swede Killer" for the success that he had against Swedish players, especially Mats Wilander.

Grand Slam singles finals

Runner-ups (2)

Year Championship Opponent in Final Score in Final
1986 U.S. Open Ivan Lendl 4–6, 2–6, 0–6
1989 Australian Open Ivan Lendl 2–6, 2–6, 2–6

Career finals


Wins (11)

Grand Slam (0)
Tennis Masters Cup (0)
Olympic Gold (1)
ATP Masters Series (3)
ATP Tour (7)
No. Date Tournament Surface Opponent in the final Score
1. 18 March, 1985 Rotterdam, Netherlands Carpet Jakob Hlasek 6–1, 6–2
2. 29 April, 1985 Hamburg, Germany Clay Henrik Sundstrom 6–4, 6–1, 6–4
3. 4 April, 1986 Kitzbuhel, Austria Clay Andres Gomez 6–4, 4–6, 6–1, 2–6, 6–3
4. 4 August, 1986 Auckland, New Zealand Hard Michiel Schapers 6–2, 6–3, 6–4
5. 26 January, 1987 Sydney, Australia Hard Peter Doohan 6–2, 6–4
6. 23 February, 1987 Miami, USA Hard Ivan Lendl 7–5, 6–2, 7–5
7. 7 April, 1987 Dallas, USA – WCT Finals Carpet John McEnroe 6–0, 3–6, 6–2, 6–2
8. 13 July, 1987 Stuttgart, Germany Clay Jan Gunnarsson 6–0, 6–2
9. 27 July, 1987 Hilversum, Netherlands Clay Guillermo Pérez Roldán 6–4, 1–6, 6–3, 6–2
10. 20 September, 1988 Seoul Olympics, South Korea Hard Tim Mayotte 3–6 6–2 6–4 6–2
11. 13 March, 1989 Indian Wells, USA Hard Yannick Noah 3–6, 2–6, 6–1, 6–2, 6–3


External links

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