Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Obviously a brutal battle. What was going through your mind when he was serving for it?
JIRI VESELY: Yeah, no, of course it was frustrating to play almost three hours, losing my serve at 4-All. After that game ended, was pretty close to break him to 5-3 and serve it out. He played really well in that game. Even 40-Love I went for a shot, missed it by little bit. Then he played the rest of the points really well, real aggressive, didn’t miss at all. He broke me I think with a very solid game. Was just telling myself just to try every single ball, give it everything you have left because it might be really the last game.
Of course I was physically tired, but I think in matches like that, you just got to fight until the last point. It’s a semifinal of a 500 event, it’s a big thing, a huge thing for me. You never know when you get to chance to be in the semis again.
I was really trying hard to do everything possible. Of course he missed an easy shot at 30-All, so that was the shot I would say which kept me believing that it still is possible to win the match.
Yeah, I mean, he helped me definitely.
Q. Can you reflect a little bit on how you started your week, now you beat Novak, Shapo? Can you reflect on how wild this past week has been?
JIRI VESELY: I think it’s a bit of my signature, I would say. I’m able to beat amazing players also in the past. Unfortunately also able to lose guys 200, 300. Sometimes I’m my biggest opponent.
Of course with age it’s a little bit tougher, as well, because you feel what should already have been accomplished and hasn’t been yet.
Last 12 months were really very hard, health-wise especially. I think last three months I was playing pretty well. I had some results. I didn’t start the season well in Australia. Yeah, sometimes one week can change everything. Now I think I’ll be back to top 75, top 70, close to get into main draws of the big tournaments again.
Yeah, I think the season now is actually amazing started. I’m still not done yet here, so I hope to win tomorrow and make another improvement.
The week is just fantastic. Really enjoying it. Really enjoying here in Dubai. Coming here many times during the year as well. Yeah, just try to keep going.
Q. Rublev has been playing long matches as well. Are you expecting a physical battle between you two? What are you expecting and are you ready for it?
JIRI VESELY: Well, he’s a guy that plays really, really fast every single shot. There’s no slowing down. It’s going to be very quick. I think there’s not going to be many rallies.
I’m going to try to stick to my game, try to serve big, wait for my chances. It’s a final. He’s the clear favorite. He’s been playing so well the last two, three years, been very solid, being in a final in almost every single tournament he plays.
I have nothing to lose. I’ll leave it all out there and we’ll see what happens.
Q. Does that mean there’s less pressure on you which you will be enjoying your game more?
JIRI VESELY: Yeah, there’s no pressure. There’s just enjoyment for myself. I think I’ve been in the position the whole week with any opponent I played in that tournament. I think this works pretty well for me. Going to be again in this position.
So, yeah, just go out there, enjoy, have fun, try to play my best game. That’s all I can do.
Q. I don’t think it can be a coincidence you beat Cilic, Shapo and Djokovic. What do you think the thing that you instilled in your game that changed it to this level? Is it mental, physical, the courts of Dubai?
JIRI VESELY: Might be the courts a bit for sure. The courts are very fast. I think it fits my game pretty well.
Overall I played here many times, lost in the first rounds always. I think I had my weapons. I think I had always the shots to beat these guys. Of course, not beat them all the time, but from time to time. I was always playing close matches with them.
The other thing is playing against the lower-ranked guys. I think that’s a little bit something what I really have to work on, improve that, try to keep the level that I’m playing with these guys.
I think this week can be really a big changer in my career. It has to. I have to take all the positives with me. I have to take the fact that I beat really amazing guys. That’s something that I have to really take with me and believe in myself much more than maybe sometimes I do.
Yeah, I really hope to keep going this season. I hope to have a great year, of course.
Q. How often when you’re traveling outside of your home country do you end up speaking to press in native language? Do you have any sense of why if it’s not often that might be?
JIRI VESELY: No, it’s not usual. Of course, it’s on Grand Slams. That’s where all the medias are. Maybe on some European Masters 1000 tournaments.
It’s actually a little bit funny. The guy from the Czech press, he’s here for vacation. I’m just doing a great week, so he’s happy, I’m happy. Enjoying it, yeah.
Q. Novak has many fans here. You had a lot of support yesterday and today. Did that take you by surprise? What does it mean to you?
JIRI VESELY: Yeah, really appreciate it a lot. Trying to get them involved a little bit. Of course, I’m not the favorite. I have to use everything I can.
I think after of course beating Novak, people saw it yesterday, they came again to watch it today. I tried really to keep them with me again. I think the match was so, so close again. I think that’s something what makes the people really excited. I hope they had fun.
Yeah, I hope they come tomorrow again and I’ll try to use them again (smiling).
Q. You spoke yesterday about struggling in matches with lower-ranked players. Is that because you feel the pressure being the favorite or you prefer playing on bigger stages with bigger crowds?
JIRI VESELY: No, I think it’s the pressure. I think sometimes of course all the guys are playing great tennis. The differences are not that big in terms of the game. It’s always in the important moments, guys on tour here or the top guys, they really play same time everything the same. Doesn’t matter if it’s 4-All, deuce, if it’s break point down. That’s something what makes really the huge difference between the guys on tour, on challengers. They all can play really good tennis. The differences are very small.
I think with the lower-ranked guys, I’ve been struggling really mentally, putting myself under huge pressure. Sometimes when I don’t win, I really get down sometimes too much. It takes me really some time to recover from the loss. That’s I think something what I have to really improve as well. Every single week you can play a new tournament. Of course you’re not going to win every single week.
Tennis, there isn’t any draw, there’s only win or lose. I think I really have to change that in my mind and try to improve that because I think that can really help me a lot.
Q. What did you do from last night to prepare and to reset to be focused on this instead of thinking about beating Novak?
JIRI VESELY: Yeah, I think I took big lesson from last win against Novak in Monte-Carlo. I really had tons of messages. I was trying to reply to every single one because I felt like if I don’t reply, people say, He’s a little bit arrogant.
This time I really only answered to my closest ones. The rest I will reply after the tournament. I just tried to stay focused, be with my family, not look at Internet pages.
I think everything is of course part of our career. You know at some point you really have to stay focused, especially after a huge win like against Novak. I really think I managed that pretty well this time.
Yeah, you learn from mistakes.
Q. Yesterday you mentioned how you were not really prepared for the early success you had. Having been through everything you’ve been through, what would you tell your younger self?
JIRI VESELY: I think I would really, I don’t know, try to — of course, it’s hard when you were young. You have people around you. I think it’s very important to have such people around that are experienced. They know it takes some time to really break through, to not be in rush.
Of course, media and everybody expects you to be top 10 the age of 20. It’s very rare. It’s very hard to really break through.
I think because I was successful in a very young age, I really had that attention. Maybe I didn’t have too many people that were clearing my mind and saying, Look, calm down, it will take some time. Even if you are 30 or 40 now, you might fall down again, but it’s a process and you are still very young.
I don’t think I had bad coaches or bad advisors. I think I just wasn’t able to manage the situation that well. Yeah, it’s a lesson, but it’s a lesson that I will maybe in the future give to somebody else.
I’m happy. Of course, the career could be better so far. I still was in the top hundred for eight or nine years. It’s still okay. I still believe I can be much higher. I hope I can accomplish my goals, my dreams. I still have time left.