ATP Tour: Eastbourne Invitational Semi-Finals Preview

Tennis Player hits ball

We preview the semi-finals of the ATP's Eastbourne Invitational taking place on 29 June. 

Marco Cecchinatto 1/1 | Lukas Lacko 19/20
At the beginning of this event, I earmarked Cecchinatto as one to watch this week and I have not been disappointed. The tall Italian will be looking to make his second ATP Final this week after he captured the title in Hungary earlier this year. Obviously, his run at Roland Garros captured the world’s attention, but there were some encouraging signs earlier in the year that he had turned his game around. Semi-finals in Challenger events in Marbella and Alicante were paired with a victory in Santiago. That victory in Hungary just served to underline what a talent this boy is. That clay-court nuance has translated well onto the grass with victories over Millman and Istomin testament to that.

Slovak Lukas Lacko is perhaps the biggest surprise in the semi-final package- and that’s saying something. He began this event in spectacular fashion, overcoming the top seed Diego Schwartzman in a titanic battle. He then disposed of Norrie with ease and will also be looking to make his second ATP Final. Lacko got through qualifying at Halle and made it to the final 32. He also made it through to the final 16 at the Surbiton Cup, so it’s clear that he has some grass-court abilities. Some may also remember that the Slovak pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the Aussie Open with an opening round victory over Raonic. Lacko has made the third round of Wimbledon in 2010 and 2012 and will give Cecchinatto a tough examination.

This will be their first encounter, making it just that bit tougher to call. Lacko beat Norrie in a match that spanned just 19 games. He has only been broken five times in his last three matches. Cecchinatto has got to be the favourite however. His rousing clay-court heroics at Roland Garros indicate a capacity to adapt his game according to the conditions. 1/1 for Cecchinato looks like certain money to me. 

Mischa Zverev 6/10 | Mikhael Kukushkin 5/4 
The second in the wildly unexpected semi-finals on display this week sees Germany take on Kazakhstan for a place in the Eastbourne Final. These are two players that have really come from nowhere. Kukushkin started proceedings this week with a serene victory over David Ferrer. But it was his hard-fought epic over Kyle Edmund that really caught the eye. Outside of this week, Kukushkin’s best performance this year came at the Lyon Open. That Quarter-final appearance was a brief reprieve in what has been a frustrating year for the baselining Kaz. He won a Challenger event in Irving, but either side of that victory he endured nine losses without a victory.

Mischa Zverev is clearly something of a dinosaur in the modern game of tennis. Perhaps serving and volleying more than any other active player on tour, Zverev has been able to exploit his niche on a surface that has always favoured a solid serve and volley player- think Tim Henman. He has been utterly devastating this week, dropping just 12 games against Shapovalov and Steve Johnson in total. His year has been one to forget. But a former Double’s Champion on the grass-courts of Halle has clearly got some capability on this surface. He has reached the third round at Wimbledon twice and puts players under pressure with his antiquated approach. Up to this point his best result this year had been a Round of 16 run, so clearly Zverev is a player to watch in this grass-court swing.

These players have a fair degree of history, with Zverev leading the head-to-head 3-2. Disturbingly for Kukushkin, Zverev has emerged victorious on all of their last three encounters. But those matches all went to deciding set, including a five-set marathon at Wimbledon last year. So perhaps Kukushkin at 5/4 isn’t too unattractive.

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Written by Damien Kayat for

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