Jiri Vesely managed to record his first ever victory at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday — and it was a win that meant more to him than most.
The Czech 28-year-old has had a torrid past six months after being involved in a serious car accident last August.
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He somehow escaped serious injury and walked away from his wrecked car, but was forced to pull out of a number of tournaments. As a result his ranking has plummeted to No. 121 and only last week had to withdraw from the Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger mid-match with fatigue and food poisoning.
However, Vesely was back to his fighting best on Monday as he saw off Croatian former world No. 3 and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic in straight sets.
Vesely came through qualifying and kept up his good run with a convincing 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) triumph on Centre Court over Cilic, getting over the line on his sixth match point.
“This means a lot to me to finally win in Dubai,” he told the applauding afternoon crowd. “Thank you so much for coming out. I have been through so much in the past months and I have worked so hard for this after my car accident. I make things difficult for myself, and at my age — 28 — I am not the oldest but not the youngest and I can now aim at getting back into the top 100 and take it from there.”
Five-time champion and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic is due on court on Monday evening, as he takes on wildcard Lorenzo Musetti, following the match between three-time Grand Slam winner and double Olympic gold medallist Andy murray and Australia's Chris O'Connell.