ATP Rosmalen / The stranger who ‘destroyed’ Daniil Medvedev: 5 things to know about Tim van Rijthoven

He had never won an ATP match before this week…

This is the most mind-blowing in view of Tim van Rijthoven’s incredible career at ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The Dutchman had a crazy week to win the tournament… having never won a match on the main circuit before. If he played two Davis Cup matches with the Netherlands, the native of Rosendaal had so far only participated in one ATP Tour tournament, and that is not new. It was in 2016 in Winston-Salem. Van Rijthoven, eliminated in the qualifying tournament, was finally drafted as the lucky loser after an injury to Thanasi Kokkinakis and lost in the first round to the Czech Jiri Vesely (3-6, 6-3, 6- 3).

ATP Rosmalen

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As you will have understood, Van Rijthoven is not the youngster who arrives on the circuit. The Dutchman, already 25, turned pro in 2015 but never qualified for a main circuit tournament, with the exception of Winston-Salem in 2016. He had to settle for tournaments ATP Challenger and ITF circuit. He has eight titles on the ITF circuit and two finals on the ATP Challenger circuit. He also distinguished himself among the juniors by reaching 13th place in the world rankings and playing in a quarter-final at Wimbledon in 2014, notably pinning the Russian Andrey Rublev on his career.

Van Rijthoven huge sensation, Gaston “great” server

… but Medvedev remembered him

Let’s recap Van Rijthoven’s week. He had never beaten a member of the World Top 20, he did so by knocking down the American Taylor Fritz (14th) in the second round (6-7, 7-5, 6-4). He had never beaten a member of the World Top 10, he did so by defeating the Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime (9th) in the semi-finals (6-3, 1-6, 7-6). Finally, he had obviously never beaten a member of the World Top 5, and he did so by defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final (6-4, 6-1) to win the first title of his career. A week of firsts, a week of dreams.

And with a superb tribute from the world number 2 as the icing on the cake. “Well done Tim. Incredible week. It’s your first final in an ATP tournament and you directly destroy the world number 2 in two sets in the final, it must be a nice feeling! I remember you in juniors, you have talent. You need to repeat that more often now“.

And why not at Wimbledon? He will first have to pass the qualification box in Roehampton, unless the tournament offers him a wild card. Its title to ‘s-Hertogenbosch makes it legitimate to obtain the precious sesame. While waiting to know for Wimbly, with a jump of 99th places to reach 106th place in the ATP ranking which will be published on Monday, the Dutchman will approach the Top 100 (106th) and will be able to consider integrating the big picture of the next US Open. Another career begins for him.

Auger-Aliassime falls in turn against the sensation Van Rijthoven

Lowest ranked winner of the season

Don’t search. No player ranked above 205th in the ATP rankings has won a tournament on the circuit this season. This says a lot about the feat achieved by Tim van Rijthoven in Rosmalen, where the Dutchman had benefited from a wild card. A feeling that is reminiscent of that of last year with Juan Manuel Cerundolo. The Argentinian suddenly emerged from anonymity by winning the Cordoba tournament, when he was only 335th in the ATP rankings.

To situate Van Rijthoven’s improbable performance, it should be noted that only two players lower than him have managed to win a tournament on grass… since the beginning of the century. First there was Mark Philippoussis, former world number 8 but fell to 214th place in the world rankings in 2006 when he won in Newport. Then Nicolas Mahut, ranked 240th when he surprised Stan Wawrinka in the 2013 final to win at… ‘s-hertogenbosch.

A Krajicek fan, a family dedicated to tennis

Van Rijthoven did not embark on a tennis career by chance. His parents, Vermaas and Marieke, were tennis coaches and therefore immersed him very early in the world of the yellow ball. Young Tim has also found a good example to follow: his compatriot Richard Krajicek. The Dutchman created a sensation by winning Wimbledon in 1996, after notably beating Michael Stich and Pete Sampras, then the American MaliVai Washington in the final. Krajicek was also Van Rijthoven’s coach in 2017 and 2018.

This partly explains why the Dutchman expresses himself particularly well on grass, a surface where the service of this large size (1.88m) is devastating. Former member of the IMG academy in Bradenton, that of Nick Bollettieri, Van Rijthoven was also inspired by the game of Roger Federer, his idol according to the biography on the official website of the ATP. He is also a big fan of the Ajax Amsterdam football team, golfer Tiger Woods and actor Denzel Washington.

His coach was a pet peeve of Sampras

The name of Paul Haarhuis will perhaps bring back some memories to tennis fans in the 90s. The Dutchman, now Van Rijthoven’s coach, had had an honorable career in singles, reaching 18th place in the ATP rankings in of his only singles title on the circuit, in Jakarta. Above all, he will remain as one of the rare players to have a positive record against the legendary Pete Sampras, like Krajicek for that matter, with three wins and only one defeat in four confrontations with the American. He had notably beaten him in the quarter-finals at Indian Wells in 1996, before knocking down Goran Ivanisevic in the semi-finals only to bow to Michael Chang in the final.

It was certainly the most accomplished week of his career. Haarhuis have seen many more in doubles with 54 titles and a remarkable total of 95 finals played on the circuit. The formidable pair he made up with his compatriot Jacco Eltingh won all the Grand Slam tournaments, including Roland-Garros twice, as well as two Masters. He had won a third time on clay in Paris with former world number one Evgueni Kafelnikov in 2002. It was also his last title in doubles.

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