The 6’3″ Czechoslovakian (now Slovakia) Miloslav Mečíř was called ‘El gato’, which in English means ‘The Big Cat’, a nickname that was given to him by an Italian sports journalist. The nickname was in reference to Mečíř’s effortless court coverage and graceful footwork.
Mečíř hit the ball flat with short backswings and a hitting motion which helped him disguise his shots, which would often wrong-foot his opponents. Mečíř was a specialist at using change of pace and angles to control the game and throw his opponents off their timing and rhythm.
Mečíř won the Olympic gold medal at the 1988 Games in Seoul, and had two runner-up appearances in Grand Slam finals, losing to Ivan Lendl in the 1986 US open and the 1989 Australian Open.