Photo: Paul ZimmerJiri Vesely (CZE)
HARLINGEN, TX, USA: Having already secured two singles titles on the ITF Pro Circuit in the early stages of 2013, 19-year-old Jiri Vesely was entering his fourth tournament of the year looking to continue his rise up the singles rankings.
Vesely, who recently made his Davis Cup debut for his native Czech Republic, is widely regarded as one of the best upcoming young talents in the game. The 2011 Australian Open Junior Champion already boasts eight ITF Pro Circuit singles titles to his name, and was looking to add to his tally when he took in the USA F6 event in Harlingen, Texas.
The second seed began his week in dominant fashion, losing just two games in his opening two matches. Firstly, Vesely disposed of Zimbabwe’s Takanyi Garanganga, 62 60, before producing a seamless display against Belarusian qualifier Artem Baradach, posting a 60 60 win.
Victory meant that Vesely had ensured a relatively straightforward passage to the quarterfinal stage, subsequently continuing his streak of reaching the final eight in each of his last 13 tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit.
He was pitted against fifth seed, Germany’s Tim Puetz. The 25-year-old German was entering the tournament high in confidence having reached the highest singles ranking of his career at no. 354, also securing a singles title in Bagnoles De L’Orne, France, at the start of the year. Vesely ultimately prevailed over three sets, winning 63 46 61.
Another tough three set encounter followed in the semifinal, when Vesely took on the improving 19-year-old Ji-Sung Nam of South Korea. Nam raced into a 62 first set lead, before Vesely proceeded to edge out his opponent 64 75 in the following two sets.
Despite his recent success, it was the first time Vesely had overcome a first set deficit since August 2012, when he came back to defeat Artem Smirnov in Poland.
Vesely’s opponent in the final was another highly-promising talent, American Bjorn Fratangelo. The two had met for the first time a week earlier in Brownsville, Texas, with Vesely securing a straight sets victory. Fratangelo, a former French Open Junior Champion, has started 2013 in fine form, securing his first ITF Pro Circuit singles title on clay in January, and had not dropped a set en route to facing Vesely in the final.
Both players held serve up until Fratangelo broke late-on in the opening set, taking a 75 first set lead. The following set continued in similar fashion, hinging on a second set tiebreak, which ultimately went Vesely’s way, 7-4. The young Czech proceeded to take the third set, securing a 57 76(4) 63 victory, his ninth singles title on the ITF Pro Circuit.