"Jiri, Jiri, Jiri!" the crowds started chanting as Czech Jiri Vesely reached the last set of the Tata Open Maharashtra leading 4-2. The fans and the atmosphere became electric as everyone could feel that this would be the tournament Vesely would capture after a hard fought five year title drought.
He didn't have it completely easy as his opponent Egor Gerasimov played tough and determined throughout most of the final match. The Belarusian was just delighted to be in his first ATP Final of his career since turning pro in 2010.
"I'm happy to be here and play the final...people came and supported me...they were not supporting a single player but backing everyone...it gave me a good emotional pump," Gerasimov had said. He'd win his semifinal berth against Australia's John Duckworth in straight sets and hoped he'd have a chance at his first title.
Jiri Vesely had other ideas and before the championship match told of his confidence on a better shot at winning. "I have the game. I have the power to win. I need to focus on myself, on my game on my serve, let's see.
I have the adbantage. I played two finals before..." he explained with feelings and emotion. He entered Center Court cool and seemed calm putting his bags down and took a swig of water. The crowd was massive as both he and gerasimov glanced up at the stands and could see many fans especilly young people.
He had remarked before that in attendance "..there were a lot of young kids and that's great. I love to see young kids, watching tennis, supporting the game..." It was all business for the two players as the first ball was hit.
But the opening set went to a tiebreak and Vesely slammed his way into winning the set in striking fashion with Gerasimov giving away more gifts of points than necessary. Set two became a different matter when the Belarusian corrected the errors made in the opening set and with perseverance he pushed the set to 5-all.
He was far more clever with his cross court wins and drawing errors from Vesely, Gerasimov won the set 7-5. Vesely though would step up his game in the last set, feeling that this was his time for that second title and he'd paint the lines with 31 shots to win the point with a 4-2 lead.
Towards the end the Czech slammed a shot with the Belarusian hitting the return out wide. Vesely would scream, bang his chest and make a clenched fist in victory of winning 7-6, 5-7, 6-3. He won with 26 aces including tons of self-confidence and good strategy to win his 2nd career title.
He was all smiles and frankness saying "It's been a very long week especially in the last 3 days...At the beginning of the 3rd set I think Ego was the better player...I somehow managed especially with my serve...I think something special is in the air...I really felt your support...It feels amazing."
The season has started off with great hope not only for Ego Gerasimov who experienced his first career final, but for Jiri Vesely who after five years of getting his first title at Auckland, now has an added title and confidence to his playing resume.