Five years and numerous injury breaks later, Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic has become an ATP Tour title winner once again. He beat Egor Gerasimov 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-3 in two hours and 12 minutes to lift his second ATP 250 title at the Tata Open Maharashtra in front of a cheery weekend crowd at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Sunday.
After surviving on aces and a bit of luck to make his way into the final, the Czech didn’t depend entirely on his strongest weapon against the Belarusian on Sunday. He did fire 26 aces, but complemented the serve with better court coverage and far improved forehand returns.
With Gerasimov resorting to serve-and-volley tennis, 26-year-old Vesely was able to match him by charging down the net on his own to hit winners. The biggest takeaway from the game was his drive to retrieve shots, a complete contrast from Saturday’s semifinal.
Vesely started strong by breaking Gerasimov in the first game of the match, but as was the case in the semifinals, he was broken back in the very next game. With the latter serving equally well, the first set went into the tiebreaker.
Gerasimov showed signs of frustration after losing the first three points, but a forehand winner and an ace brought in parity to the tiebreaker After thundering down a 210kmph ace, Vesely raced to a 6-2 lead and pocketed the set with a swinging forehand into the corner.
The second set saw both the players continuing their serve fest. After regulation service games, at 5-5, Gerasimov attacked Vesely’s serve with great cross court backhand to force a forehand error from Vesely. It didn’t work the second time but two back-to-back backhand errors from the Czech helped the Belarusian break the serve and serve for the second. He closed it out with an ace to take it to the decider.
It turned out to be a disastrous start in the third set for Gerasimov as he was broken in the very first game. But this time, Vesely held on to build a crucial 2-0 lead.
At 4-2 in the third set, the finalists treated the fans to a memorable rally on Vesely’s serve. The Czech pushed Gerasimov to the corners with his returns, but the Belarusian sustained the pressure to keep the ball in play. Even as Gerasimov seemed to gain a comfortable position in the rally, Vesely cracked an angled cross-court forehand to finish the point. It proved to be the last chance for resurgence as Vesely served to love to emerge the champion.
Goransson/Rungkat take doubles title
Earlier in the day, Swedish-Indonesian pair of Andre Goransson and Christopher Rungkat defeated Israeli-Belarusian pair of Jonathan Erlich and Andrei Andrei Vasilevski 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 to win their maiden ATP tour men’s doubles title.
Erlich could have achieved in ATP Tour today what Djokovic did in Slams at the Australian Open in January. The 42-year-old was close to winning his 22nd ATP tour title and earn the distinction of lifting trophies in three different decades. But Goransson and Rungkat prevailed in the super-tiebreaker to put paid to his efforts.