Botic van de Zandschulp’s US Open Run

Source: Robert Sabo-New York Post

By Grant Wang

Although ranked 117th in the world coming into the US Open main draw, Botic van de Zandschulp had 14 Grand Slam match wins in 2021 (counting qualifying matches), the second-most Grand Slam match wins of anybody in 2021, only behind world number one Novak Djokovic. Nobody expected much of him for the US Open this year, or even more precisely, nobody had ever even heard of him. The furthest he had gone at a major was only the second round, having achieved this at both the French Open and Wimbledon this year, so let’s dive into the details of his extremely successful US Open.

In the qualifying rounds of this year’s US Open, he displayed his never-give-up attitude, as he dropped the first set in every match but came back to win all of them. He continued this trend in his next three matches against Carlos Taberner (dropped the first two sets), No. 8 seed Casper Ruud, and Facundo Bagnis. Van de Zandschulp’s fourth-round opponent would be No. 11 seed Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who might seem like an easier opponent than Ruud based on seeding. However, Ruud is a clay-court specialist and has earned 77% (2645 out of 3455) of his ranking points on clay, so he is definitely a weaker player on hard courts. Schwartzman also tends to perform best on clay courts but to a much lesser extent than Ruud, with 53% (1605 out of 2980) of his ranking points coming from clay-court tournaments; he has also made the US Open quarterfinals twice (2017 and 2019), so all of this shows that he is likely a more challenging opponent than Ruud. During the fourth-round match, van de Zandschulp won the first two sets 6-3, 6-4, but Schwartzman fought back to win the third 7-5. At 4-5 15-40 on Schwartzman’s serve in the fourth set, van de Zandschulp held two match points and was one point away from being the first qualifier to reach the US Open quarterfinals since 2008. But the pressure got to him, and he lost the set 5-7. Van de Zandschulp needed to hit the reset button and forget about the match points he had. But how mentally strong could he be in this moment if he had never competed at this stage before? Apparently, very, very strong. It seemed like van de Zandschulp had become an entirely different person, as he completely destroyed Schwartzman in the fifth set by a score of 6-1. Now into the quarterfinals, he would face red-hot Daniil Medvedev, ranked No. 2 in the world. Although he would lose to Medvedev in four sets, van de Zandschulp would later find solace, as he would be the only one to take a set off Medvedev at the US Open this year, which world No. 1 Novak Djokovic couldn’t even accomplish.

Van de Zandschulp’s run to the US Open quarterfinals would see him jump 55 spots in the ATP rankings, reaching a career high of No. 62. This year at the US Open, what he’s done is incredible, and he’s only 25 years old! So this begs the question, what does the future hold for Botic van de Zandschulp?


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