Dutch tennis has something to cheer in the semi finals of the ATP 250 event in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Tim Van Rijthoven was granted a main draw wild card by the organisers. The 25 year old has exceeded expectations at the event so far.
Wild card to semi finalist
Tournament organisers tend to provide wildcards for “home grown” players. The Libema Open followed that model. All three singles wildcards to Dutch players. That gave the Netherlands five players in round one. The highest ranking was Botic Van De Zandschulp, who was the sixth seed.
Van De Zandschulp crashed out in the first round, as did Robin Haase and Jesper De Jong. Leaving the one remaining wildcard and Tallon Griekspoor. The latter was unfortunate to run into the second seed, Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round. Griekspoor lost in two tight tiebreak sets.
All hopes now rested on Tim Van Rijthoven. The 25 year old mostly plays on the ITF futures or the ATP Challenger circuits. With a ranking of 205 at the start of the week, it’s understandable that the Dutchman favours the lower tiers.
However, this week has been a step-up for the 25 year old, and he has taken it in his stride so far. A first round straight sets win over qualifier Matthew Ebden 7-6(4), 7-6(9) set up an enticing second round match with the third seed. American Taylor Fritz was the favourite on paper and started the better, securing the first set tiebreak. However the Dutch Wildcard broke serve in both the next sets to take a big scalp.
Frenchman Hugo Gaston was the quarter final opponent. Again, with Gaston being the higher ranked player, Van Rijthoven had nothing to lose and come out swinging freely. Having got this far in only his second main draw ATP tour event, the 25 year old would be content to fall at this hurdle.
However, Van Rijthoven seems to have found his grass feet. The 25 year old defeated Gaston in straight sets, the first being a tiebreak, that the Dutchman dominated. Van Rijthoven is enjoying himself on the green and it certainly seems to suit him.
The Dutchman is a former Wimbledon junior semi finalist, the furthest Van Rijthoven ever got to in a junior grand slam. Having made the semi final, the 25 year old has earned himself a tasty match up with the second seed Auger-Aliassime. The Canadian has yet to drop a set at the event.
Van Rijthoven has eight titles to his name. Four World Tennis Tour and four ITF Futures tours. The Dutchman has made progress on the Challenger circuit, reaching two finals. The first in Segovia Spain last August, where he lost out to Benjamin Bonzi, after winning the first set.
The second final was in the Forli Challenger in Italy in February this year. The 25 year old lost out the young Brit Jack Draper. The Brit dominated the match from the outset, but Van Rijthoven saw his ranking rise as a result of this.
Finding form on the grass, before Wimbledon is impressive. From Wildcard to semi finalist (at least), should be enough to earn the 25 year old one of the precious wildcards given out by the All England Club. With some of the scalps already beaten, it should be a main draw wildcard not a qualifying one. As Van Rijthoven will have taken his ranking to inside the top 160 in the world.