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Child's play for Federer
Sometimes you know it’s just not going to be your day. Actually it hasn’t been Lukas Lacko’s day on clay for three years now, as he hasn’t won a match on the red dirt since 2011. Ten successive defeats is a lot of baggage to carry into any match, so perhaps he would at least have been familiar with the sense of doom when he drew Roger Federer for his opening joust of this year’s tournament. The Swiss hasn’t lost in the first round of a Slam for 11 years, and this proved no exception. The combined forces of clay and the 17-time Grand Slam champion were enough to seal Lacko’s fate. The 2009 champion won 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 in 84 minutes.
“Everything is great,” grinned Federer afterwards. “I’m happy to have got early signs out of this match that I’m playing well. I’m very pleased, very satisfied. I had everything under control from A to Z. The match was rather easy for me. And my personal life, as we all know, is great so I’m happy the family is here.”
Indeed they are. Philippe Chatrier Court was less than packed when this one kicked off just before lunchtime, but the most famous father in tennis had two of his four-strong brood in the stands. Myla and Charlene Federer, his first batch of twins, who turn five in July, were resplendent in identikit polka-dot dresses and pink hairbands. It was understandably a little soon for batch two, Leo and Lenny, to be courtside, given that they are not yet three weeks old.
Clearly Myla and Charlene could see which way the wind was blowing when the first set lasted just 24 minutes, and went off for a more demanding playdate elsewhere. By then their father had already reeled off 17 winners. Lacko, whose appearance is more 1970s roadie than 21st century tennis pro, looked a tad dazed.
Despite his current ranking of 88, he did reach a career high of 44 early last year, which is quite something given that clay form. At age 26, he’s been around, making the third round in Australia and at Wimbledon just two years ago. But in 2014 his best result is reaching the final in Shenzhen on the Challenger circuit, so it was no surprise he couldn’t stay with Federer. The No.4 seed broke for 2-1 in the second, moving so well that it seemed worthwhile checking his date of birth just to verify that he is, as he claims, now 32. Only occasionally could Lacko challenge; he was fortunate to save two set points, but Federer still took that one 6-4.
In the third there were times when Lacko’s insipid play all but sent out an engraved invitation to Federer. It would have been rude to refuse. For those who like their landmarks, this was Federer’s first win as a father-of-four (he missed Madrid for batch two’s birth, and then lost immediately in Rome to Jeremy Chardy). For the Swiss, this one was child’s play.