Defending champion Roger Federer will look to continue his march towards a record breaking ninth Wimbledon title when he takes on Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko in second round action. The Swiss, who has recently ended his long partnership with Nike in favour of a switch to Uniqlo, looked as good as ever on Centre Court in the first round. Lacko, himself a veteran of 13 years on the Tour, will be desperate to return to the Wimbledon third round, having reached it in 2012 and 2016. Who will come out on top?
Lacko and Federer have twice clashed previously, with both matches also coming at the Majors. In 2011, then defending Australian Open champion Federer dispatched Lacko in the first round at Melbourne Park, hardly breaking a sweat in a 6-1 6-1 6-3 win. It was scarcely more competitive when their rivalry was renewed three years later at the French Open in the first round. Federer again dominated, beating the Slovak 6-2 6-4 6-2.
Path to the second round
Federer arrived in Wimbledon on the back of a frustrating defeat in the Halle final to an inspired Borna Coric. But whilst Coric crashed out in the first round at the hands of Daniil Medvedev, Federer encountered no such problems against Dusan Lajovic. In a rematch of their second round clash last year, Federer again dismissed the Serbian’s challenge, in large part thanks to a lightning fast start and reached the second round a 6-1 6-3 6-4 winner.
Lacko reached a second final in his career and a first since 2012 in Eastbourne in the run up to Wimbledon. Thus he surely arrived at the All England Club in good spirits despite defeat there to Mischa Zverev. He began rather slowly at the Championships, losing the first set to the French qualifier Benjamin Bonzi, who had ended James Ward’s hopes of Wimbledon qualification. But Lacko rallied impressively to turn the match around and progress 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-4.
How do they match up?
There are few, if any, that can match Federer’s attacking quality. The Swiss star is able to hurt opponents from both wings, with his forehand one of the best in the game. Whilst his backhand is not the equal of his big four rivals or the likes of Wawrinka and Zverev’s, it is nonetheless a potent weapon for Federer and has improved notably under the direction of coach Ivan Ljubicic. His serve is also deadly accurate and he is an accomplished volleyer.
Lacko lacks Federer’s weapons, but he is a solid baseliner who will look to avoid giving up too many unforced errors. The Slovakian’s forehand is his best shot and he hits it well out of his backhand corner. But he will have to step outside of his comfort zone and usual patterns if he wants to defeat Federer. He is unlikely to have success breaking down Federer or outlasting him from the baseline, and attempting to do so will allow Federer to develop rhythm.
It’s an unfortunate draw for Lacko who has played some good tennis during this grass court swing and could have put together a good run at Wimbledon. But against Federer his chances seem vanishingly small. He doesn’t have the weapons to upset the Swiss’ balance and also lacks the defensive qualities to blunt Federer’s own attacks. That does not bode well for him. Expect Federer to return to the third round a straight sets winner.