Will Botic van de Zandschulp Find Another Gear?

Botic van de Zandschulp (not GETTY)
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Poznan, Poland–

Second seed Botic van de Zandschulp has managed to advance to the quarterfinals of the Poznan Challenger without any issues. The 25-year-old took out Polish wild card Daniel Michalski and lucky loser Miljan Zekic. Both the Pole and the Serbian won a couple of games in a row at some point in their matches, but couldn’t keep it up as van de Zandschulp raised his level. The Dutchman’s monstrous power has been a great asset and together with the lower-ranked opposition, it seemed like he never had to get out of second gear. Against his opponent in the final eight, he will need to.

With the win over Michalski– along with wins over Kamil Majchrzak in Melbourne and Hubert Hurkacz at Roland Garros–van de Zandschulp has already defeated three of Poland’s four best singles players. When asked whether he was going to hunt down Kacper Zuk next, the Dutchman replied, “The only time I played Kacper Zuk I lost against him (an ITF event in Stockholm in 2019). I want to get revenge. I have to say I always play good against [Poles], I don’t know why, but this year I do.”

Both van de Zandschulp and Tallon Griekspoor are very close to the Top 100 at the moment. They’ve also been fighting for the title of the Dutch No. 1. “I have to say it’s close right now, he’s 105 now or something, I don’t know. I prefer to be Top 100 and to be no. 1 of Holland, I hope he gets there and we will see,” said the Dutchman when asked who does he think gets there first.  A title for van de Zandschulp this week would put him just 27 points behind his compatriot and make the race even tighter.

Upcoming Matches

But the 25-year-old will have to step it up as he’s facing Jiri Lehecka, currently on a seven-match winning streak. The 19-year-old Czech is coming off a title at Tampere Challenger, his maiden trophy at this level. But the youngster has been no stranger to winning tournaments this season, taking ITF titles in Sharm El Sheikh and Jablonec nad Nisou earlier in the year.

Lehecka looked imperious in his straight-set dismissals of Aleksandar Vukic and Tristan Lamasine. While van de Zandschulp’s game is mostly known for his booming serve and huge groundstrokes, he’s been leaving his opponents a lot of freedom this week. Even Michalski, who usually plays a counter-punching game, was able to come forward very often and look for the initiative. The Dutchman will need to take matters into his own hands against Lehecka, because the 19-year-old is playing with extreme aggression off the ground at the moment and has been winning set after set, match after match.

Main Photo credit: Paweł Rychter/Poznań Open 2021