ATP Croatia Open Final Prediction: Attila Balazs vs Dusan Lajovic

Croatia Open Dusan Lajovic

We’ll have a brand new titlist at the 2019 Croatia Open as Attila Balazs and Dusan Lajovic are set to battle for the title in Umag. But who will prevail?

ATP Croatia Open Final: Attila Balazs vs Dusan Lajovic

Late breakthrough for a journeyman

The qualifier Balazs has been proving pundits wrong all week, saving seven match points against Viktor Galovic before upsetting Filip Krajinovic in a deciding set tie-break. He backed that up by ousting Stefano Travaglia in the quarterfinals. Then, on Saturday, the 30-year-old advanced to his maiden ATP final by beating the third seed Laslo Djere 6-2 6-4 after the Serbian put up a very poor performance.

Balazs plays mostly on the ATP Challenger Tour, the 2019 Croatia Open is just his sixth main draw appearance. But he has had a good season so far, reaching two Challenger finals in June, losing to Pablo Andujar in Prostejov and to Norbert Gombos in Bratislava. He also made an ATP quarterfinal at a tournament in his hometown of Budapest, where he lost to Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

The Hungarian had his best career result seven years ago in Bucharest, where he reached the semifinals. This time he managed to defeat Laslo Djere and with this win, he will debut in the top 150 of the ATP rankings on Monday.

A steady top 100 player seeking his first title

Dusan Lajovic’s development has been much steadier, the Serbian finished the last five seasons in the top 100 but it’s also this year that he made his first ATP final. An excellent run and wins over David Goffin, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev saw him reach a Masters 1000 championship match at the Monte Carlo Masters. Lajovic ended up losing against Fabio Fognini but the result saw him propel to a career-high #23 in the ATP rankings.

This week, Lajovic managed to defeat Andrey Rublev, Aljaz Bedene and Salvatore Caruso on the way to the Croatia Open final, his second at tour-level. The Italian had a 5-3 lead in the first set of the semifinal but lost four straight games and retired due to a minor injury.

How will the match play out?

The Hungarian bases his game on a loopy, top spin forehand a very good serve, which he often hits out wide to throw his opponents far from the court and hit into the open space. His backhand is pretty consistent but he lacks the ability to hit through it and often ends up resorting to the slice, which is probably where Lajovic will look for points off the baseline. Balazs will try to stay on the aggressive side of things and hunt down easy balls at the net, which definitely is his forte.

The Serbian will try to keep the rallies going, his shots are much steadier and his one-handed backhand is certainly not a liability. He doesn’t serve as quick and flat as Balazs but his kick serve can be a very powerful weapon on a high-bouncing court. Lajovic is an excellent mover and his defensive abilities will be of very high importance in this matchup.

After his great run this week Balazs certainly shouldn’t be underestimated but the Serbian will surely be extremely motivated to capture that maiden title, he has been almost only in ATP level events for around five years now and he would certainly love to add it to his resume. Balazs’s Cinderella run was fantastic but if it goes the distance, having played six matches this week already might not be an advantage. Lajovic has spent much less time on the court but he won’t be undercooked as he also had to pull himself out of some sticky situations against Bedene and Caruso.

Prediction: Lajovic in 3

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