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Mischa Zverev vs Lukas Lacko ATP Eastbourne Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Zverev and Lacko battle for maiden ATP title

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 29 Jun 2018
  • Mischa Zverev vs Lukas Lacko is live from Eastbourne on Saturday, 30 June from 3:00pm local time/ BST
  • Zverev won their only tour-level main draw meeting in Halle last year
Mischa Zverev. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Mischa Zverev targets his first career title when he takes on Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko in the final of the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne on Saturday.

Zverev has reached two previous finals- in Metz in 2010 and a surprise run on the clay courts of Geneva last year, but he couldn’t get over the line on either occasion. Saturday’s opponent, Lacko has not fared any better in that department, as he is also seeking his first career title in his second final. His last trip to an ATP World Tour final was in Zagreb in 2012.

It has been a long wait for these two players, both are 30 years old now, and have battled hard through the years, and one of them will be rewarded with a maiden title on Saturday.

While younger brother, Alexander continued to motor up the top echelon of the men’s game last season, Mischa was also compiling his career-best year, peaking at No. 25 in the world rankings. His stand-out performances include quarter finals at the Australian Open, losing to Roger Federer after taking out Andy Murray in the previous round, a fourth-round run at the US Open, that aforementioned final in Geneva, as well as semi-finals in Stuttgart and Metz.

2018 has not been so rosy, as he struggled through the hard-court season, winning just three matches from Brisbane in January to the Miami Open in mid-April. His opening round exits include Sydney, the Australian Open, Montpellier, Rotterdam, Acapulco and Miami.

Zverev picked up a couple of wins on clay, most notably in Monte Carlo where he reached the Round of 16, and Roland Garros, where he reached the third round, but there was really nothing to shout about outside those. He did not particularly get off to the best of starts on grass, winning just one match between Stuttgart and Halle, but he has strung some very good wins together in Eastbourne, beating Nicolas Jarry, Steve Johnson, Denis Shapovalov and Mikhail Kukushkin to reach the final.

The German left hander failed to serve out the opening set against Kukushkin at 5-3, and then missed four set points as his opponent served at 5-6, but he kept his composure to take the tie break 11-9 after saving four set points. Both players exchange breaks early in the second set, but it was Zverev who got the decisive break in the ninth game before serving out the win after two hours.

“It was close. It was very tight, especially the tie-break in the first set. It was a lot of back and forth and I think I was very fortunate to win that set,” Zverev said. “It was a very close game, a few points here and there, but luckily I was able to come through.”

Can he find a performance in the final to take down Lacko and get his first ATP World Tour title?

Lacko has put together a solid week, the highlight being a come-from-behind 4-6 6-4 7-5 victory over Argentine, Diego Schwartzman in the second round. 

Lukas Lacko. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
The Slovak had opened his tournament with a 6-4 7-6 victory over Roberto Quiroz, while he subsequently beat Cameron Norrie and French Open semi-finalist, Marco Cecchinato to make his first tour final on grass.

Lacko needed just an hour to see off Cecchinato, winning 88% of points on his first serve and 79% on the second serve, offering no break points and breaking the Cecchinato serve once in each set in the comprehensive 6-3 6-4 victory. 

Lacko boasts a career-high ranking of No. 44, a mark he attained at the start of 2013, but he has spent the last few seasons breaking in and out of the top 100; and was at 94 at the start of the week.

The Slovak had won just a handful of matches before Eastbourne- one each in Auckland, Melbourne and Sofia, while he crashed in the first rounds in Delray Beach, Indian Wells, Miami and Halle. While he struggled on the main tour, he has had a few bright spots in the lower-tier Challenger tour, most notably, his title-winning run in Glasgow. He has undergone a dramatic transformation in form in Eastbourne, winning four straight matches to advance to his first final in almost six and a half years. Will it be well worth the wait when he takes on Zverev in the final n Saturday?

“I hope it’s going to be a good match,” Zverev said. “This year, everything’s different. We’re meeting in the final, not the first round, and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
“I like grass,” Zverev said. "It’s great here, especially the courts here are unbelievable. I’m enjoying myself in Eastbourne.”

Zverev and Lacko have met in just one tour-level main draw match- Zverev winning 6-4 6-4 in Halle last year, but they also met in the Doha qualifiers in 2012, Lacko winning 7-6 6-3. They have met four times on the Challenger/ Futures Circuits; Zverev bossing those ones 3-1. Can he deliver where it really maters?

It’s an interesting contrasting in styles with Zverev charging the net, and Lacko doing most of his work from the back of the court.

Can Zverev serve and volley his way to a first career title, or will Lacko cap a wonderful week with his own maiden ATP crown? 

Mischa Zverev vs Lukas Lacko is live from Eastbourne on Saturday, 30 June from 3:00pm local time/ BST

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Mischa Zverev vs Lukas Lacko ATP Eastbourne Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Zverev and Lacko battle for maiden ATP title

Mischa Zverev and Lukas Lacko meet in the Eastbourne final on Saturday. Who will win his first career title? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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