Davis Cup winner Jiri Vesely backs ATP Cup
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Davis Cup winner Jiri Vesely backs ATP Cup

Czech star Jiri Vesely has backed the inaugural ATP Cup to kick off in Australia next year and hopes it can coexist with the Davis Cup.

The 24-team event featuring five players from each competing country will be played over 10 days in January before the 2020 Australian Open.

Vesely has beaten world No.1 Novak Djokovic and made the semi-finals at the Canberra Challenger on Thursday.

Vesely has beaten world No.1 Novak Djokovic and made the semi-finals at the Canberra Challenger on Thursday.Credit:Ben Southall

Davis Cup winner Vesely threw his support behind the initiative after defeating last-Australian-standing Brad Mousley 7-6 6-3 in the Canberra Challenger quarter-finals on Thursday.

Vesely won the 2013 Davis Cup alongside superstar Tomas Berdych and said the more time spent playing for his country the better.

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"It's definitely a good idea, I think team competition, in general, is really something interesting and something great for tennis," Vesely said.

"It definitely gives you different kind of emotions when you play, that's for sure. Players love to play for their country and some don't get to play that often and for me year after year it feels better and better.

"I really feel great emotions and love playing for the Czech Republic. The ATP Cup next year in Australia is a very good idea and definitely, I think it would be great to have the event combined with the Davis Cup."

The former world No. 35 endured a tough season last year plagued by injury and wants to launch his 2019 campaign with the Canberra title.

Vesely has beaten world No.1 Novak Djokovic and world No.4 Dominic Thiem and backed himself to beat anyone on his day.

"I’ve beaten quite a few top 20 guys and some top 10 players so I think I have the game to beat these guys, that's for sure, I just haven't had the consistency," Vesely said.

"I hope to break that this year and to have better results and get to where I want to be, which is getting back to where I was and even push it a bit higher.

"But the year is really long and for now it's really just important to be injury free because I wasn't able to do that in the last few years and I dropped [in ranking] quite badly and it's not a nice position where I am now."

Vesely has made the Wimbledon fourth round twice and will face American Ryan Harrison in the first round at the Australian Open last week.

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"Grand slam tennis is always different. I played Rafa [Rafael Nadal] at Wimbledon last year and I know how these guys are really prepared for grand slams," Vesely said.

"They're always very physical and you really have to show something more than normal tournaments. But I think competing with them and beating them in normal tournaments gives you the confidence to do it at slams."

Vesely will face second seed Hubert Hurkacz in the semi-finals at the Canberra Tennis Centre on Friday.

"I'm definitely happy to be through, all three matches have all been tough from the mental side this week," Vesely said.

"I've clearly been the favourite and it's never easy to go out there and play against these guys who play free with no pressure.

"So for me, it's been good to get three good matches so far, before the Open next week."

Argentine Renzo Olivo and Belarusian Ilya Ivashka will contest the other semi, while the doubles twilight session on Friday has been moved to 2pm.

Eamonn Tiernan is a sports reporter with The Canberra Times

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