ECKENTAL, November 3, 2019
Jiri Vesely is the champion of the 23rd edition of the Challenger Eckental. The No. 7 seed from the Czech Republic defeated 2016 champion Steve Darcis, who was playing his last match on the ATP Challenger Tour, in Sunday’s singles final.
In front of packed stands at the House of Sports, Vesely fired 19 aces and won 87 per cent of his first-service points to secure a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory in one hour and 40 minutes.
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“I struggled a bit at the beginning of the third set,” Vesely told Tennis TourTalk. “But I managed to hold my serve and capitalized on my break point chance. For sure I played a good match but I was also a bit lucky in the end.”
After reaching the semi-finals at the Wolffkran Open in Ismaning two weeks ago, the World No. 119 played his second tournament on carpet in Germany this autumn. “The tournament in Ismaning helped me mentally and I was able to build on it this week. I had a pretty tough draw here with Tobias Kamke in the first round and former Top 100 Ilya Ivashka. Every match was really tough but I am happy to leave with the title.”
By lifting his seventh ATP Challenger career trophy, his first since Prostejov 2017, the Czech took away from Bavaria €6,190 in prize money as well as 80 ATP Ranking points.
“It feels really good. Back in 2017 I played my best season. Then I suffered from injuries and it took a pretty long time to believe in myself again and to come back.” The goal for the former World No. 35 will be to re-enter the Top 50 as soon as possible. “It would be nice to reach the main draw of the Australian Open. If not, I am convinced to do so at Roland Garros. I don’t have to defend too many points until Wimbledon. So, it should work out for me.”
Up next for Vesely will be his last tournament of the season at the Peugeot Slovak Open in Bratislava. And what are his plans for the off-season? “I married this year, so we will enjoy our honeymoon before preparations for the upcoming season will start.”
Skupski/Smith claim doubles title
Earlier in the day, Ken Skupski of Great Britain and Aussie John-Patrick Smith clinched the doubles title. The No. 2 seeds defeated the tournament’s top seeded duo Sander Arends from the Netherlands and Roman Jebavy of the Czech Republic 7-6(2), 6-4. The final lasted 68 minutes.
“I have played here many times,” said Skupski, who eventually lifted his first trophy in Eckental following his third appearance in the final. “It was nice to come through and to win the title at a new place. We have had a great week and played really well. There were small margins today but we managed to take our opportunities when they came, which wasn’t many. We both served well in the big moments, which was key.”
In particular, the 36-year-old Briton enjoyed this week playing on carpet. “I train on this surface, so I am used to it. For most of the players it feels different, but for me it feels natural. I like playing on fast surfaces and I got a partner, who has a great serve, which makes things easier for me. It’s always special to come back here.”
Both players will now move on to Bratislava, teaming up together at the Slovak Open.