Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven’s Grand Slam debut keeps on getting better as the 17-year-old reached the Wimbledon junior boys’ quarterfinal on Thursday.
He moved into the final eight in grand style by upsetting top seed and recent Roland Garros junior boys’ champion Andrey Rublev of Russia 76 (6) 46 75.
“I played him two times before and one won time and lost one time, so I knew how he played and what I was capable of,” Van Rijthoven said. “I just played and I just fought and it paid off.”
The match probably should have ended in the Dutchman’s favor in two sets, but he showed a maturity in pushing aside the second-set loss to get back on track.
“I was a set and 4-1 up and I couldn’t really finish it,” Van Rijthoven said. “He took a medical break and got some time for himself. I managed to win the third set. You’re at Wimbledon so you can’t just throw away the match. I’ve learned from matches that I’ve lost in the past.”
The child of two teaching pros, Van Rijthoven works with two coaches back home - Jean-Baptiste Blanc and Raymond Knaap. The reason he hasn’t played other Grand Slam events is that both coaches believe a strategy of limited junior events is best.
“I haven’t played many junior tournaments,” Van Rijthoven said. “It’s not my decision but my coaches. I’ve been focusing on improving other things, technical things and physical things.”
That said, Van Rijthoven, who will play Noah Rubin of USA in the quarterfinals, understands that it is special to start his Grand Slam career by playing at the most prestigious tournament in the world.
“It’s a great honor to play on these courts, even if you lose first round you can say, ‘Yeah, I’ve played Wimbledon,” he said. “To be in the quarterfinals is even better.”
In another boys’ third round match, Briton Joshua Sapwell continues to make good on the wildcard he received by moving into the quarterfinals with a 61 63 win over lucky loser Pedro Iamachkine of Peru.
Iamachkine was one of five boys’ and five girls’ who played at Wimbledon as part of the ITF/Grand Slam Development Fund 18 & Under Touring Team.
For Sapwell, currently ranked No. 157, the Wimbledon experience is a dream come true, from playing on the courts to the cheers of the fans.
“It was a big win because it was such an honor to play on that court (Show Court 18),” Sapwell said. “When the order of play came out last night I was so excited.
“Every match I’m playing better and that’s what it’s all about.”
Sapwell will face eighth seed Johan Sebastien Tatlot of France, who defeated 11th seed Michael Mmoh of USA 75 63.
“I know him very well and I actually played him last week and lost,” said Sapwell, of his quarterfinal opponent. “The level of that match was unbelievable. It will be a tough match.”
In the girls’ competition, 10th seed Xu Shilin of China captured a hard fought 67 (3) 63 61 win over fifth seed Jil Belen Teichmann of Switzerland.
“She played very well but I just kept positive and trying my best and I won,” Xu said. “I think I was a bit more positive than what she was. Normally, being positive isn’t my thing but I’m trying to change it.”
Xu began playing tennis when she was three-years-old because her father owned a tennis club in Zhong Shan, the Southern China city where she was born.
“I was a kid and obviously I liked to play and have fun,” she said. “As I grew older I liked tennis even more.”
Xu, who now is back living in Zhong Shan, spent much of her youth living in Florida where the family moved when she was nearly nine-years-old. She just returned to China only two years ago. In many ways, Xu is very Americanized and even admits that she thinks in English and not Chinese.
“I miss the U.S. a lot,” Xu said. “It’s very different than China, but both have negatives and positives.”
Xu will play unseeded Jelena Ostapenko of Lithuania in the quarterfinals. Ostapenko earned her quarterfinal slot by ousting ninth seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine 62 62.
And in the marathon of the day, 12th seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic was the survivor in a 76 (6) 67 (5) 62 battle over seventh seed Francoise Abanda of Canada.
In the first set, Abanda led 51, but Vondrousova came back to force the tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, Abanda led 60, but Vondrousova came back to win the set.
Vondrousova had a 52 lead in the second set. Ahead 54 in the second set, Vondrousova had a match point at 30-40 on Abanda’s serve, but the Czech native netted a forehand to lose the opportunity.
Into the third set, Vondrousova went ahead 40 and 51, but this time held on to the lead to close out the match.
“I don’t know,” said Vondrousova, when asked how she came back to win the match.
Vondrousova will play Paula Badosa Gibert of Spain in the quarterfinals. Gibert, who upset top seed Ivana Jorovic of Serbia in the second round, defeated Gabriella Taylor 76 64 to reach the quarterfinals.
“I am very happy,” Gibert said. “I cannot reach quarterfinals at a Grand Slam every day. Now I'll rest and tomorrow I'll go out to play.”