The 25-year-old Czech Jiri Vesely has been one of the most promising players from the '93 generation, winning the junior Australian Open in 2011 and spending the last five and a half years in the top-100 almost without leaving the elite group.
Jiri has achieved his best ranking back in April 2015 but he never reached those heights again, dropping out from the top-40 in November that year and never coming back. A series of injuries in the last couple of years has plagued his development, reaching just three semi-finals on the Tour since 2016 and scoring 16 ATP wins in 2018, the lowest number since 2014.
Jiri has kicked off the new season in Pune where he lost to Benoit Paire in the second round and he entered Canberra Challenger as his last test before the Australian Open where he plays against Ryan Harrison in the opening round.
Before that, Jiri will compete in the semi-final in Canberra following a 7-6, 6-3 win over Bradley Mousley in an hour and 14 minutes, firing 14 aces and losing just 10 points in his games, never facing a break point.
On the other hand, he created five break points on the return and one he converted in set number two was enough to propel him into the last four where he will meet a young Pole and another great server Hubert Hurkacz. After the match against Mousley, Jiri spoke about a rough couple of years he has left behind him, hoping for a much better run in 2019 and especially to play injury-free and chase much higher ranking positions.
In addition, Jiri welcomed the newly-formed team event named ATP Cup that will kick off in January next year and he hopes it will be combined with the Dais Cup someday in the future. Also, the Czech explained what makes the best players in the world so tough to beat at Majors, recalling his match against Rafael Nadal from Wimbledon last year that he lost in straight sets after a solid display that wasn't enough to shake the world no.
1 at that moment. "The ATP Cup is definitely a good idea, I think team competition, in general, is really something interesting and something great for tennis," Vesely said. "It definitely gives you different kind of emotions when you play, that's for sure.
Players love to play for their country and some don't get to play that often and for me year after year it feels better and better. I really feel great emotions and love playing for the Czech Republic. The ATP Cup next year in Australia is a very good idea and definitely, I think it would be great to have the event combined with the Davis Cup.
I’ve beaten quite a few top-20 guys and some top-10 players so I think I have the game to beat these guys, that's for sure, I just haven't had the consistency. I hope to break that this year and to have better results and get to where I want to be, which is getting back to where I was and even push it a bit higher.
It's really important just to be injury free because I wasn't able to do that in the last few years and I dropped in the rankings quite badly and it's not a nice position where I am now. Grand Slam tennis is always different. I played against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year and I know how these guys are really prepared for the biggest events.
They're always very physical and you really have to show something more than in regular tournaments. I think competing with them and beating them in smaller tournaments gives you the confidence to do it at Slams as well.
I'm definitely happy to be through here in Canberra, all three matches have been tough from the mental side. I've clearly been the favorite and it's never easy to go out there and play against these guys who play free with no pressure.
So for me, it's been good to get three good matches so far, before the Australian Open next week."