Jiri Vesely was a relieved man. He had saved half a dozen match-points in the quarterfinal and semifinal to make the final. He had played five back-to-back tiebreakers including the first in the final on Sunday. He survived it all to clinch his first ATP title in five years at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune.
“Five tie-breaks in a row - it's pretty amazing. I made jokes with my wife yesterday about a sixth tie-break and here you go. All matches were really close, so I had to stay calm in important moments and try and stick to my strengths.
READ:Jiri Vesely wins Maharashtra Open, Goransson, Rungkat claim doubles crown
“I had a lot of luck during the week, I have to be realistic about that. Saving so many match points especially in the quarters and semifinals, it's something that happens once in a lifetime. Having had all the health issues in the last two years, I am really happy with how the week went by,” he said after winning the men’s singles title in front of a packed stadium. It was his first ATP tour title since winning the Auckland Open in 2015.
“The win is very important. Every single year, I had big success, like playing in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2016, 2018. I always had some big wins, but was never able to push it further. So I need to stay focused in the next tournaments, keep the momentum going. It’s a bit of a shame because you need to have the momentum going and win as many matches as possible,” he said.
The win will help him climb at least 35 places to World No. 72 when the ATP rankings are published on Monday, enough to move out of Challengers and play the ATP tour events as well as Grand Slams.
The change in rankings, the back-to-back three-setters and the title victory means Vesely now has second thoughts about participating at the Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger, for which he had signed up earlier.
“Tomorrow, we go to Bangalore. Let’s then see how I will feel, how my body feels,” the 26-year-old said.
“It's been a very long week, especially the last three days. I have played for over two hours in every match and nine sets in the last three days, so (I'm) very exhausted physically and mentally as well. There were many close moments, important moments. So let's see.
“My matches will probably start from Wednesday, so I can still make a decision,” he said. Ricardas Berankis had earlier pulled out of the Bengaluru Open.
The decision to not push the body beyond its limit comes from his experience of losing many months of tennis by playing despite injury concerns.
“Even on the Challenger tours, playing with pain is impossible. If you don’t have 100 per cent fitness, there is no point in playing. You may win a game, but you won’t win the tournament. A couple of times, I pushed it too far. You keep playing with pain, you lose focus, confidence and everything breaks down. To make a comeback is really a big big pain. You have to first get healthy and then you have to win matches to gain some confidence and some self belief.
“So my advice would be,’ If you have pain, if you feel you're injured, make a decision to get yourself ready and then come in,” he said.