Lehecka Sinks Stricker, Reaches Milan Final
Jiri Lehecka earned the biggest win of his season Friday when he moved past Swiss lefty Dominic Stricker 4-1, 4-3(4), 2-4, 4-1 to reach the championship match at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
The 21-year-old, who went 2-1 during the round-robin stage, produced a stunning shotmaking display at the Allianz Cloud, timing his groundstrokes perfectly to pull Stricker around.
“Today I think everything went the way I wanted,” Lehecka said. “Me and my team spoke about this match yesterday and today and the plan was just to relax on the court and enjoy it as much as I can. Dominic was playing incredible here, so I am very happy with my win.”
The Czech fired 21 winners and stepped inside the baseline at every opportunity, closing the net effectively to efficiently win points throughout the 82-minute clash. With the in-match coaching rule in place, Lehecka was in frequent contact with Michal Navratil, who helped guide his charge to victory.
Lehecka will face third-seeded Briton Jack Draper or fourth-seeded American Brandon Nakashima in the final on Saturday evening. The fifth seed played Nakashima during the round-robin stage, falling in straight sets.
The Czech started the season at No. 141 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. However, he competes in Milan at No. 74 following a breakthrough year that saw him reach the semi-finals in Rotterdam and lift an ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Liberec.
Stricker has earned five Top 40 wins this season, including a victory against World No. 23 Lorenzo Musetti in Milan. The 20-year-old, who won two ATP Challenger Tour titles this year, soared through the Red Group, holding a perfect 3-0 record.