Tennis

Tata Open | Jiri Vesely claws back from the brink for a spot in the finals

Egor Gerasimov during the mens semifinal match at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune on February 8, 2020.

Egor Gerasimov during the mens semifinal match at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune on February 8, 2020.   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

Overcomes second seed Ricardas Berankis in a fascinating duel that goes to tiebreakers in all sets.

Jiri Vesely rose from the dead for the second day running, as he beat second seed Ricardas Berankis 6-7(8), 7-6(3), 7-6(7) to enter the final of the Tata Open Maharashtra at the Balewadi Stadium on Saturday.

In what will be his first tour-level summit clash in nearly five years (since Bucharest in April 2015), Vesely will play Belarus’ Egor Gerasimov who beat James Duckworth 7-6(2), 6-4. For Gerasimov it will be first-ever appearance in a final.

Vesely battled from a set and a break down but seemed down and out in the third set tie-break when Berankis had three match points at 6-3. But the Czech wiped off two by forcing his opponent into forehand errors before Berankis, so clincial at the net until then, was smitten by anxiety and met an easy volley a fraction early to put it into the net.

The Lithuanian did have a fourth opportunity to close out the contest at 7-6 but sent an inside-out forehand just wide. Vesely brought up his first matchpoint with a thunderous ace -- one of 28 he pumped -- and converted it when a Berankis backhand sailed wide.

Fighting spirit

“I am very happy with my fighting spirit,” Vesely said after the win. “I didn’t give up until the end and it paid off. He [Berankis] is a great baseliner, hits fast and flat. But I had a bit more luck today.”

From the outset, the match never settled into a proper rhythm. Berankis, sporting solid backhand, went up 3-1 only to let Vesely back. At 5-5 Vesely had a look at the Berankis serve at 0-30 but the latter raked up four points in a row, the last of which was a fine down-the-line backhand.

In the tie-break Vesely fluffed four set points, including two on his serve. Berankis’s backhand broke down at important moments but Vesely’s forehand fared worse including at 6-4, when he crashed an easy ball into the net with both his opponent and the court at his mercy. It was only apt that the set settled in Berankis’s hands following a Vesely double-fault.

In command

In the second set, Vesely’s serve was top-notch in five out of six holds as he lost just a single point. But when it wobbled, like it did in the fifth game, Berankis capitalised to break to 3-2. But the World No. 73 handed it right back, including a double fault on breakpoint, one of eight he served on the day. Vesely took the tie-break for the loss of just three points.

Like in the first two sets, the duo traded breaks early in the third before Vesely moved for the kill in the ninth game. But on breakpoint at 30-40, Berankis botched a half-volley pick up only to come up with a stunning reflex forehand at the net to clinch the point. Two forehand shanks from Vesely helped Berankis hold on and then drag the tie to another tie-break. Once there he nearly left Vesely ruing that missed opportunity but it was not meant to be his day.

The results: Singles (semifinals): Jiri Vesely (Cze) bt Ricardas Berankis 6-7(8), 7-6(3), 7-6(7); Egor Gerasimov (Blr) bt James Duckworth (Aus) 7-6(2), 6-4.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 11:06:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/tata-open-jiri-vesely-claws-back-from-the-brink-for-a-spot-in-the-finals/article30772286.ece

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