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  • Youzhny takes on Lacko in Zagreb final

    2/5/12 4:26 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Youzhny takes on Lacko in Zagreb final Lukas Lacko will be taking part in his first career ATP final when he goes up against Mikhail Youzhny on Sunday in Zagreb. The two players will be squaring off for the fourth time.

    Mikhail Youzhny and Lukas Lacko will be meeting for the fourth time in their careers when they battle for the PBZ Zagreb Indoors title on Sunday.

    Youzhny is sweeping the head-to-head series 3-0, including 1-0 on hard courts. Lacko, though, has been competitive--and led by a set--every time. A trio of 2010 encounters went in Youzhny's favor; 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-1 in Dubai, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 in Madrid, and 6-7(8), 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in the French Open second round.

    After a dismal 2011 campaign, Lacko is playing some of the best tennis of his career. The 24-year-old Slovak qualified for the Australian Open and advanced two rounds before losing to Rafael Nadal. Lacko is right back at in in Zagreb, with victories over Potito Starace, Alex Bogomolov, Robin Haase, and Marcos Baghdatis.

    Youzhny also underwhelmed last season but appears to be back on track in 2012. The 39th-ranked Russian reached the Doha quarterfinals then succumbed to Nadal. He is currently rebounding in style from a first-round Melbourne loss to Andrey Golubev. Youzhny booked his spot in this final by taking out Sergiy Stakhovsky, Grega Zemlja, Ivo Karlovic (in a third-set tiebreaker), and Michael Berrer.

    The No. 3 seed will be contesting the 18th ATP final of his career. He appeared in none in 2011 but reached five finals in 2010, winning his sixth (Kuala Lumpur) and seventh (Munich) lifetime titles. Lacko, on the other hand, is through to his first career final. In fact, he had never even been to an ATP semifinal prior to this week.

    Based on experience, look for Youzhny to prevail in three tight sets.

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