• Nadal meets Lacko in Australian Open third round

    1/19/12 6:03 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal meets Lacko in Australian Open third round Rafael Nadal is set for another Australian Open meeting with Lukas Lacko on Friday. A place in the fourth of the season's first Grand Slam is at stake.

    Rafael Nadal and Lukas Lacko will be squaring off for the third time in their careers when they do battle in round three of the Australian Open on Friday.

    Nadal leads the head-to-head series 2-0, with both victories having come on hard courts. The world No. 2 hammered Lacko 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in second-round action at this event two years ago, but their most recent encounter was more memorable. To open the 2011 season in Doha, Lacko bageled Nadal but eventually succumbed 7-6(3), 0-6, 6-3

    From there the year only got worse for Lacko, who all but disappeared from the ATP scene. The 24-year-old Slovak, though, qualified for the main draw last weekend to begin his climb back into the Top 100. Lacko, currently at 119th in the rankings, has made the most of his successful qualification with upsets of Ivan Ljubicic (came back from two sets down) and Donald Young.

    Nadal went into 2012 with plenty of question marks and did little to answer any of them when he lost to Gael Monfils and then arrived in Melbourne with a knee issue. The Spaniard, however, appears to be in fine shape through two rounds. He has taken out both Alex Kuznetsov and Tommy Haas in straight sets.

    Lacko at least has the tools to give Nadal some trouble. He hits a flat ball and can bring out big serves and forehands with consistency. Nonetheless, the underdog will need an off day from his opponent in order to have any chance and there is no reason to think he is going to get it.

    This one should be more competitive than their 2010 clash, but don't expect Nadal to concede a set like he did last year.

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Vamos Rafa

nadline , 1/19/12 8:31 AM

Lacko has a great serve, he plays a little like Gulbis but when he bagled Rafa in Doha, Rafa had the flu and was sweating buckets. He had considered pulling out.

nadline , 1/19/12 8:33 AM

Rafa is first on court followed by Federer.

Apparently, JMac is in Melbourne commentating for Fox but they can't show any matches on R. Laver so they've scheduled both Rafa and Roger on Hisense to give them something, unfortunately, Roger had a W.O so Fox haven't been able to broadcast any of Roger's matches and it looks like they are not going to be able to do so as the tournament thins out and most top players end up on Laver.

nadline , 1/19/12 8:42 AM

I saw some of the match with Lacko and Young. Lacko did have some solid shots and good serve from what I got to see of the match.

I do think he will give Rafa more of a workout than the previous two matches. That's a good thing. After this match it's going to get much tougher.

Good luck, Rafa!

Nativenewyorker , 1/19/12 9:09 AM

This Lacko guy, if he plays well, he can be one difficult opponent. I remember him giving Youzhny so much trouble at Dubai one year, in 2010 I think. He has good ground strokes and can chase after many balls. I don't think he can beat Rafa but Rafa has to be alert if he doesn't want to drop a set in his match. I hope Rafa ends the points quickly and conserve as much energy as possible.

luckystar , 1/19/12 10:05 AM

don't put Gulbis on Lacko. Lacko deserves better.

RickyDimon , 1/19/12 10:44 AM

Vamos Rafa & good luck against Lacko. Hope Rafa continues to come into the net even more than he did against Haas. Even Frew McMillan complimented Rafa on his volleying during the commentary which was good to hear.

Rafa in 3 I hope.

schatz , 1/19/12 12:06 PM

thanks Nadline for that explanation of the scheduling due to requests from US Tv thing that takes a while getting used to in north america is that TV rules the scheduling of events. Whereas in the UK at least things just happen when they are ready.

For example, the semifinals of wimbledon are shown on a major US network starting at a particular time at the top of the hour, say 10am eastern time. But that's already 3pm in London and the match might be halfway done by then. And they still claim it's 'live'...thankfully I managed to find a BBC feed of the last two Murray-Nadal semis...

Bharata , 1/19/12 5:51 PM

Hope Rafa is fit and well to win this quickly.

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 1/19/12 8:12 PM

lacko is hitting BIG . a good test for rafa now. Rafa is hitting well. just needs to reduce that huge net clearance of his backhands...

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 1:40 AM

impressive set 1 from rafa. REALLY happy about the way he is striking his forehand. LETHAL

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 2:04 AM

Rafa is serving well.

nadline , 1/20/12 2:11 AM

thank God you are here nadline, hello there..i was all alone here ! lol

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 2:17 AM

the new racket IS helping rafa with his forehand. He is HAMMERING the ball out there..flattening it out whenever the ball is dropped slightly short

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 2:20 AM


You are not all alone! I have been watching the match. I agree with you about Rafa's forehand today. This is a good test for Rafa because Lacko does have some big shots.

Nativenewyorker , 1/20/12 2:26 AM

GREAT to see ya NNY :D it is 6.30 am here , i slept at 3 am and woke up at 5.15 ..have not been disappointed so far. Rafa's serve , he is focusing more on precision so far this tournament. He has NOT served a 200 kph+ serve the entire tournament so far but still winning a healthy % on 1st serves.

My only worry remains his backhand ...not bad at all but yet to reach that world class level it is capable of

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 2:31 AM


I always have problems trying to convert the kph to mph. At one point, he served an ace at 110 mph. How fast is 200 kph?

I agree about the backhand. Needs more work. How do you feel about his overall play? Court position? Aggressiveness?

Nativenewyorker , 1/20/12 2:35 AM

His backhand needs more work though. He's serving very well this second set, finishing points quickly. He took so long to serve in the first set and I was worried then that this would turn into a slug fest. So happy that he has up his game and speed up during his service game. I really don't like hearing commentators mentioning this time between point thing match after match.

luckystar , 1/20/12 2:36 AM

Yes vamosrafa I'm here. I was holding my horses to see how things were going because I did not want to jinx Rafa.

nadline , 1/20/12 2:37 AM

haha, you are one considerate fan nadline.
Hi there luckystar..yup..not really satisfied with the backhand.He can hit it MUCH BETTER than this

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 2:39 AM

NNY, 200kph is approximately 124.7 mph ! rafa can easily hit up to 205 kph, he did it last year on many occassions..US open 2010 was an exception though, serving upto 135 mph i.e 217 kmh, his fastest serve ever ! here rafa has not served with that much pace. May be he is also being cautious with that shoulder issue

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 2:43 AM

It's funny, the ATP scoreboard is a few seconds ahead of the TV so I get to know the score ahead of play if you see what I mean and that saves my nerves a bit when things get tight.

nadline , 1/20/12 2:44 AM

lol, yea that happens sometimes

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 2:45 AM


Thanks for the info about the kph conversion to mph. I am okay with less speed, as long as he gets a high percentage of first serves in and some cheap points.


I was ready to tear my hair out watching Rafa slug it out in the early going with Lacko. The commentators on the tennis channel were saying that his body can't take this kind of tennis anymore. He has to look to close out points more quickly, be aggressive and go to the net. He knows well how to do this. He has done it before, like in 2010.

Nativenewyorker , 1/20/12 2:48 AM

Hello vamosrafa. This Lacko guy is one tough player, he's still fighting out there. It's a pity that he can't play consistently well throughout the whole season to get his rankings up. It's his luck that he had to run into Rafa in two AOs and Fed once.

Rafa's game is so up and down match by match, his serve is so good today but his backhand needs improving. I hope from the fourth round onwards he gets every part of his game clicking well at the same time, of course I'm assuming he beats Lacko today.

luckystar , 1/20/12 2:51 AM

agreed...the forehand is working superbly well , simply on fire. IF he is to beat federer and djokovic he needs to do something about his backhand. He struck is so much better in abu dhabi against federer ! he is obv capable of doing it but seems to be holding back for some reason. maybe he is not being threatened enough so far? may be in search of more match play and confidence? lets see

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 2:59 AM

ahh great rally and a backhand down the line winner was a pleasure to watch. Lacko hits BIG off both wings and as lucky said , he is hanging in there...a tough guy...he is giving rafa some good match practice because this is the sort of play rafa needs to guard against

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 3:02 AM

Game, set and match Nadal!

Obviously, Rafa was expected to win but matches are not played on paper anything can happen, so it's a relief that it all over.

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 1/20/12 3:16 AM

I thought that was his sweaty shirt he threw to the crowd, I was going 'Me, me me', but it was a towel, still I would have loved to have it.

nadline , 1/20/12 3:18 AM

Yes Rafa wins! Good workout, well done Rafa. I'm
so glad to see him serving so well and winning points easily with his serves. The match takes 115 mins with some good rallies and good serving, yes he's not spending too much time on court.

So, Rafa said that he would like to have Fed's serve if he can choose one thing from Fed's game. Rafa is such a smart boy, when asked what else he wants to win when he has already won all four slams plus Davis Cup and Olympics gold, he said he has not won the AO 2012 yet. What a smart answer!

luckystar , 1/20/12 3:26 AM

Rafa has always admired Roger's serve.

nadline , 1/20/12 3:34 AM

beautiful from Rafa...such a great match...Lacko was determined to put up a fight, probably felt some confidence from that set he was able to bagel Rafa in Doha 2011, but Rafa was just amazing...I loved every aspect of his game...I understand some unusual UEs were caused by the fact that he is still experimenting with his new racquet, but overall very solid and very good performance...Rafa's service games, apart from the first set, were so convincing that I was actually able to relax and enjoy this match...:)

Bravo Rafa! Rafa is such a nice person, always praising his opponents...his on-court interviews here are so much fun for every Rafan...I am always looking forward to it and hope he will be giving those all the way to the finals ...Rafa is such a wonderful human being...apart form his great qualities as an athlete his great personality and exemplary behavior keep reminding us why we adore him so much...

Vamos Rafa!!!

natashao , 1/20/12 3:49 AM

That was well done from Nadal. Clean all the way around. 27 winners, 19 ues and 81% first serves in. Top guys hitting their strides now. The question is whether it'll be Isner or Lalo in the fourth round.

cherylmurray , 1/20/12 3:53 AM

oh dear, had put a 6am alarm...just got up to realise that Rafa's match is already did he play? pls someone give me a full description.....reading the comments above I am guessing he served well and forehand was good too..

atul1985 , 1/20/12 3:55 AM

Lacko knows that he was playing a sick Rafa in Doha with flu. Rafa nearly pulled out of that tournament and the effects of the flu dogged him to the AO loast year. But Lacko is agood player, being No 119 in the worls doesn't mean too much because very very few point separate players ranked between 60 and 120+.

nadline , 1/20/12 3:58 AM

rafa was once asked if he were to choose soneone's service ,whose would i be, his answer was nt roddick's,not isner's not karlovic's , ..his ans was federer's serve :)

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 4:02 AM

atul,forehand =top notch ,serving=pretty accurate ,backhand=average ! movement was good too..return of serve was also decent. His best match of the tournament and it was a good test as lacko played a good match

The only concern left is rafa's backhand. He showed glimpses of brilliance from that wing but for me he is giving way too much net clearance on average. Ok you could do that given the spin he generates but to beat the top guys he needs those big flat CC bombs !but i am very hopeful about his game right now.

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 4:19 AM

Yes vamosrafa, I also like Fed's serve among all players, need not be the quickest or the most powerful, but has the varieties, precision and most importantly, they're hard to read as his service motion is always the same. Rafa knows best who has the best serve around.

luckystar , 1/20/12 4:21 AM


I was going to answer you, but vamosrafa said pretty much what I was going to say. It's that backhand that still needs work. It is also Rafa's confidence shot, so I have to believe that he may still be less than his best. He definitely needs to have that shot flat, angled and fast as he progresses in the tournament. Some tough opponents ahead.

I actually felt the way natashao did. I was finally able to relax in the second and third sets during a Rafa match. That is how comfortable I was with how he was playing. He really stepped it up and was more aggressive.

I got to see it on the tennis channel. If espn2 has other sports commitments, then they will let the tennis channel broadcast some matches. The commentators were talking about some of the aspects of Rafa's game that need work. I thought it was very enlightening. They talked about the fact that he has to play more efficiently, more aggressively, shortening the points to protect the health of his body. They also discussed his serve. I don't love Justin Gimelstob, but he was right in saying that Rafa needs to try to win points with his serve. It's not enough to just get the first serve in play, you want to get cheap easy points with a strong first serve that can cause a weak return. They also talked about his court positioning. Good stuff!

Nativenewyorker , 1/20/12 6:14 AM

I thought Rafa served very well in the second and third sets, was finishing his service games within one to two minutes at times. He took 43 mins to finish the first set 6-2; 39 mins to finish 10 games, 6-4, in 39 mins and took just 33 mins for the third set 6-2. He's a little wobbly in the first set, especially his first service game, making some uncharacteristic errors; was slow in serving, took well over 30 secs between points most of the time. I really hoped that he would speed up his service game. It seems to me that when Rafa has an early match, he's always slow to get into groove. He played well in the second and third sets, I'm very pleased with the way he served and won some cheap points from his serves. Also, he took shorter time between points to served. It's a very encouraging match, but he really needs to improve his backhand and his court position. Some of his returns were weak, allowing Lacko to attack them or allowing Lacko sufficient time to get back into position to get to Rafa's return shots.

luckystar , 1/20/12 6:39 AM

No complaints about Rafa's performance against Lacko. I could "feel" the determination, he knew Lacko was going to be a stern test and he was ready. The serve was on song, net game was spot on. I just want him to recover his killer instinct, needs to convert those break point chances when they come.

My sense is that Rafa needs to rediscover that "aura" and the way to do that is assert himself at clutch moments, this way his opponents know that when they give Rafa a sniff, he will take it and this breeds fear. I want Rafa the bully back!!!!!!! Beat them before they even step on the court.........................

Next: Deliciano...................

rafaisthebest , 1/20/12 8:58 AM

Yes Rafa needs to be the 'bully' again. I'm happy to see the clutch serving Rafa back. He was down break point in one of his service game and he served down the T to save it, nice to see such confidence back. At certain points in the second or third set, he was hitting his DTL forehand so well too, a sign that his confidence was back.

luckystar , 1/20/12 9:40 AM

rafa is making a constant effort to dictate play this time. He has already hit 105 winners in 3 matches in comparison to 78 last year at the same stage !a good stat to gauge how aggressive he is trying to be

vamosrafa , 1/20/12 10:30 PM

vamosrafa - aka, stat machine

gotta love people who back up their arguments with hard facts

RickyDimon , 1/20/12 11:04 PM

thanks ,Ricky(the expert with by far the most successful predictions on TT )

vamosrafa , 1/21/12 11:28 AM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
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