Jiri Vesely Aiming To Use Novak Djokovic Win As Springboard For More Success | ATP Tour


Jiri Vesely was delighted on Thursday after he upset Novak Djokovic for the second time in his career to reach the semi-finals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The World No. 123 has endured a challenging 12 months, but his strong performances this week have given him reason to smile again, with the Czech qualifier ecstatic about his run at the ATP 500 event.

“It’s an unbelievable run,” Vesely said in his post-match press conference. “I will try to do my best to go as far as possible, to maybe try and win the title. You never know. I’ve beaten three amazing players. I had a very tough draw. I never thought I would go that far. I’m really, really happy about it, especially after the past 12 months.

“It’s been a big struggle. I was losing my faith a little bit. It wasn’t easy. This tournament will give me so many positives for the upcoming weeks and months. Hopefully I’m on the right way. I hope to accomplish my goals that I have.”

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The difficulties that Vesely allude to include suffering from Covid last year, before he was involved in a car accident.

Those off-court incidents impacted his on-court performances prior to this week, with the 28-year-old dropping outside the Top 100 at the start of February. Vesely held a 1-5 record on the season before he arrived in Dubai.

“Last year, just before the tournament here in Dubai I was supposed to play, I got Covid. I was quite okay,” Vesely added. “Once I started to train, it was really, really hard to breathe, for me to work, to be able to hit for one hour, two hours. I had these struggles for maybe two months, three months.

“It makes you really frustrated, depressed sometimes because you don’t really know what to do. I was having all the health checks, talked to many doctors. Nobody really knew how long this could take.

“Then after three months, I finally found more energy to work harder again. Suddenly we had a car crash. It was out of tennis for another month. It has been just a very, very tough year with all the problems around. Dropping outside of Top 100 was another sad moment in my career because I’m always trying to go the other way.”

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Vesely also upset Djokovic in 2016 in Monte Carlo but struggled to kick on from that result as he found it difficult to adjust to the pressure of the Tour when aged just 22.

However, the Czech believes he is in a better frame of mind to push on now and is hoping his strong run here in Dubai can provide the impetus for him to have further success. His victory over Djokovic also means the Serbian will relinquish his World No. 1 ATP Ranking to Daniil Medvedev on Monday.

“I think maybe that win came too early,” Vesely said reflecting on his 2016 triumph over the Serb. “It was a big win. He was unbeaten in the year at the time. He won in Australia, Indian Wells and Miami. I was 22 years old. It was great to be really successful at that early age, but I think I just wasn’t prepared for that. Maybe now this win can help me much more than it did in Monte Carlo.

“Always when I had to play against lower-ranked guys, I was always struggling with myself. I wasn’t able to beat them. I was always looking at what people thought about me after the defeats. It wasn’t easy. After some time you get used to all the things. Winning and losing is just part of the sport. All this comes with the age I think, with experience.”

Vesely will look to continue his run when he faces Denis Shapovalov in the semi-finals on Friday. It is the first time the World No. 123 has advanced to the last four at a tour-level event since he triumphed in Pune in 2020 for his second ATP Tour crown.



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