Early in January, Jiri Vesely won his first and last singles title of the year on the ITF Pro Circuit and he is our featured player for July as he looked to end a five month wait for another singles title.
Vesely did not get off to the best of starts this month losing in straights sets in the first round in Kassel, Germany. Maybe the Junior Exempt entrant was distracted by thoughts of his impending 19th birthday!
On July 10th the ITF 2011 Junior World Champion turned 19 and this date also marked the start of his second tournament of the month and first of three that he would play in July within his home nation.
Prostejov was the first of this trio of tournaments and, seeded eighth, Vesely was to put his disappointment of the previous week firmly behind him as he celebrated his birthday week with his first singles title since triumphing in China at the start of the year.
All week the newly turned 19-year-old showed no signs of losing and took the title with a 64 64 win, over Dominic Thiem from Austria, coming on the back of straight set wins in the preceding rounds.
His run to the final also saw him record two set wins of 60 in successive matches and defeat seeded opposition in each round from the quarterfinal through to, and including, the final.
Further title success also came Vesely’s way in the doubles final played the day prior to his singles triumph. With partner Adam Pavlasek, a fellow player from the Czech Republic, the pair won their first title together as third seeds winning all rounds without loss of a set.
Winning both the singles and doubles titles within the same week was a career first for Vesely and he came close to repeating this in Prague.
Seeded eighth, just as he was in Prostejov the previous week, Vesely began with a 75 60 win over a wild card entrant but then, in the second round, dropped his first set since his defeat in Germany.
Brazilian Tiago Fernandes clinched a tiebreak 7-5 but Vesely hit back, levelling the match by claiming the second set on a tie break by the same score. The Czech player then won through to the quarterfinal with a 63 win in the deciding third set.
Following that second round fright, Vesely got back to winning in straight sets, first knocking out the second seeded player in the quarterfinals for the second tournament running and then seeing off another Brazilian, Thiago Monteiro, who was seeded sixth, to reach back-to-back singles finals for the first time.
The only other time Vesely had featured in back-to-back finals on the ITF Pro Circuit was in doubles action, also in the Czech Republic, back in May 2012. He won the title both times and was now looking to do the same in singles play.
His opponent, standing in his way of him achieving another career first this month, was the top seed from Slovakia, Norbert Gombos.
The first set was close with Vesely edging it 64. The following set was more one sided, a lot more in fact as Vesely did not drop a game as he raced to the win which brought him a second singles title in as many weeks.
There was not to be a repeat title winning performance for Vesely in the doubles though. Once again teaming up with Pavlasek and seeded third, the pair lost out a semifinal clash with the number one seeds and eventual champions. Despite defeat they were the only pair all week to take a set off the top seeds when they took a first set lead before going down 36 75 [10-2].
To close the month, Vesely’s third consecutive tournament in his home nation took him to Liberec and here he found himself unseeded in the singles draw. A lack of seeding, however, had little effect on his game play and after a first round 64 60 win he was once again facing Gombos across the net.
Gombos, again the top seed, was looking to exact quick revenge for his loss to Vesely in the Prague final a few days earlier but he was only able to improve slightly on that performance with Vesely winning 64 63.
Two more straight sets wins followed as he moved into a third consecutive final, yet another career first this month. He was beginning to make a habit of making these personal histories!
Although not playing doubles this week he was, however, reunited on court with his doubles partner of the last two weeks, only this time on opposing sides of the net as they faced off for the title.
Both players were unseeded and had accounted for the top two seeds during the tournament. Coming into the match, Vesely had triumphed in all the singles finals he had previously contested during his ITF Pro Circuit career and this, along with his recent form, surely made him the favourite for the title.
Having played alongside each other in doubles action the previous two weeks would have given each player some insight into their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and it was Vesely who drew first blood, taking the opening set 63.
The second set went all the way to a tie breaker and a 7-3 win levelled the match for Pavlasek. The title was therefore going to be decided in a third and final set. But who was going to get the vital win?
Five times already this month, including in his opening set this week, Vesely had won without loss of a set and it came as a surprise when, in this deciding set, he soon found himself on the receiving end of such a scoreline!
His loss to his compatriot in the final brought about another, if somewhat unwanted, career first. It was his first defeat in a singles final on the ITF Pro Circuit. The good news though was the release of the ATP rankings on 30 July revealed Vesely had peaked at a new career high of 376. A climb of 227 places on his opening ranking of 2012.