They played each other twice this year and both times they went to a deciding set. Thus, Johnson was prepared for another battle today. Lacko put up a good fight and stayed with Johnson for most of the first set. Lacko was broken once in each set to lose the match. Johnson on the other hand, kept it simple by denying Lacko any break points on his serve. The 7-5, 6-3 defeat of Lacko was a much-needed victory for Johnson who has been a tad inconsistent of late. Hopefully this will propel him in the right direction. He faces a familiar opponent next, Bernard Tomic. Johnson took him out in straight sets in Halle this year. Johnson will need to avoid complacency as Tomic is a dangerous opponent when he is engaged. If Johnson maintains his focus, he should win this match as well.
Sock came back from his injury very motivated and sharp. He won the US Men’s Clay Court title earlier this year and made the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. Yet, I watched him play last week and was very disappointed by his apparent lack of effort. He fought really hard to win the first set; however, after he lost the set he seemed to lose all interest in the match and lost the second set fairly easily to Denis Kudla. I was interested to hear his comments today when he spoke with Justin Gimelstob. It’s easy for the fans to jump to the conclusion that players are unmotivated; however, we never are really cognizant of what’s going on in their minds. He was clearly not happy with his performance in Atlanta and is looking to re-direct his season. This 7-6(7), 6-3 victory over a player who turned out to be more of threat than anticipated is a good start.
This was supposed to be an easy match for Querrey; however, Querrey has been struggling to close out matches. He made two finals this year and lost them both although he had the lead. The mental state of a player can significantly impact the outcome of many of his/her matches. Often it is the deciding factor that tips the scale in one direction or the other. Querrey is not exempt from the negative impact of poor mental fitness; yet, he was able to pull it together after dropping the second set to get the 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Soeda. Why do some players struggle with success more than others? Can we teach a player to play fearless tennis? When you look at some of the younger players, you see that fearlessness. Many of them attack their shots with apparent reckless abandon. The secret is to find the right balance, and some players find that balance much easier than others. Yet, I believe every player can get there, it may just take a bit more training/practice for some.