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Jiri Vesely is balancing Challengers with ATP World Tour events in 2016.

Vesely Building On Djokovic Win At Challengers

The young Czech has played in two ATP Challenger Tour events since defeating the World No. 1

What do you do after you’ve beaten World No. 1 Novak Djokovic? If you’re Jiri Vesely, you play Challengers.

The rising Czech star recorded arguably the biggest upset of 2016 by defeating the Serbian in the second-round of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Monte-Carlo. Three weeks later, Vesely battled away at a $50,000 ATP Challenger event in Rome, Italy, where he reached the semi-finals.

Vesely returned this week to the $125,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Prostejov, Czech Republic, where he won the past two years. Although he lost in the quarter-finals to No. 6 seed Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, he believes playing in Challengers helps him produce the level of tennis required to beat players like Djokovic.

“For players ranked No. 50 to No. 100, Challengers are very important because you need to play as many matches as possible,” said Vesely. “I keep improving and also get to work on things mentally. Challengers are great to get some confidence which you can make good use of at the Masters tournaments.”

Coming back to Prostejov to defend his title was an easy decision for Vesely. He has thrived in his home country, with four of his five career ATP Challenger Tour singles titles coming in the Czech Republic.

“It’s a home tournament and therefore a very special event for me. It’s been a matter of heart for me over the last few years,” said Vesely. “My performance has been greatly influenced by the atmosphere, but also by the pressure. I’ve been highly motivated to succeed, but also worry I could fail. Fortunately, it has always turned out well for me at the end so far.”

After Prostejov, Vesely will now turn his attention to the grass court season. He’s hoping his latest stint on the ATP Challenger Tour will produce another run of good form and a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking by the end of the year.

“My goal is to reach the Top 30,” said Vesely, currently ranked No. 60. “But as they say, don’t count your chickens before they hatch. The season has not finished yet and I still believe my dream can come true.”

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