23 May 2009

Lukas Lacko - April 2009


Photo: Srdjan StevanovicLukas Lacko (SVK)

April 2009


Lukas Lacko, a 21-year old Slovakian Davis Cup player is featured this month.  This month saw Lacko compete in the first two Russian Futures tournaments of 2009.

The first tournament of this Russian double-header took place in the Central Federal District on the banks of the Moskva River in the capital city, Moscow.  Seeded fifth in the singles event, Lacko kicked off his quest for the title with a straight sets win over Russian qualifier Alexey Golovachev.  Lacko then continued to progress through the draw recording further straight sets victories in the following two rounds to reach the semi finals.  Here, his opponent on the other side of the net was the seventh seeded Russian, Evgeny Kirillov.  Having taken the opening set 62, Lacko was handed the win, and with it a place in the final, when Kirillov retired from their match.  In the final he was to take on the conqueror of Konstantin Kravchuk in the quarterfinal; Denis Matsukevitch, the tournament’s top seed and also doubles partner here of Lacko.  Although his opponent was unseeded, knowing he had already claimed the scalp of the No. 1 seed, Lacko could not afford to let his concentration levels drop for fear of suffering the same fate as his doubles partner.  The opening set of the final of this indoor tournament was closely fought between the two players, who were meeting for the first time since 2002 when Matsukevitch came out on top in straight sets in their clay court clash at the Leciva Czech Junior Open, with Lacko just doing enough to take the set 64.  Matsukevitch then reversed this score in the second set to level the match and force a deciding set to be played.  In this final set, it was Lacko who proved to want it just that little bit more and conceded just two games to wrap up a 64 46 62 victory. 

For the doubles event Lacko partnered Konstantin Kravchuk for the first time. Throughout the event the pair dropped just one set en route to claiming the title in what was Lacko’s debut appearance in a doubles final on the ITF Pro Circuit.

Following on from this perfect start to the month, Lacko stayed in Russia and made the 1332-mile journey east of Moscow to the Urals Federal District to compete in a Futures event in the city of Tyumen, the third year in succession that the city had hosted a Futures tournament on the ITF Pro Circuit.  Just as in Moscow the previous week, this tournament was played at an indoor venue.  In the singles event, Lacko was named as the No. 4 seed and began the tournament with a 75 64 victory over Evgeny Donskoy, his quarterfinal opponent from the previous week.  The next two rounds saw him record back-to-back 62 63 wins which included a quarterfinal win over the sixth seed Valery Rudnev.  His semi final against Sergei Krotiouk saw Lacko ease to victory 60 63 and take his place in a second successive singles final.  The last time he achieved this feat on the ITF Pro Circuit was back in 2005 when he reached three singles finals in succession.  In this final Lacko faced a fifth consecutive Russian opponent, this time in the form of Pavel Chekhov, the No. 3 seeded player and defending champion from 2008’s tournament.  The first set finished 63 in Lacko’s favour but Chekhov, not about to relinquish his title, secured the second set 75.  This close contest continued into the deciding set with Lacko finally emerging victorious to win 63 57 64 and claim his second singles title of the month.

Jiri Krkoska partnered Lacko in the doubles event here and, as fourth seeds, they were stopped in the semi finals by the No. 1 seeds and eventual champions in a thrilling match which finished 67(4) 76(3) [10-7] to the partnership of Alexey Kedryuk & Denis Matsukevitch.

Lacko’s two weeks in Russia proved to be time well spent.  From the two Futures tournaments he competed in, he reached the singles final of both without losing a set before going on to claim the titles and also competed in his first ever doubles final on the ITF Pro Circuit, even managing to walk away with the title in this debut final.  The singles title successes also means he maintains his 100% record in ITF Pro Circuit singles finals in 2009, with four titles from four finals.  In terms of his career to date on the ITF Pro Circuit, Lacko has now won eight singles titles from thirteen finals and now also has a first doubles title to add to his title count.

Although still someway off his career best ATP World Ranking of 133 (Oct 2007), his start to 2009 has been a very positive one and if this form can continue throughout the remainder of the year we can expect to see him rise rapidly back up the rankings ladder.

Nick Fishpool