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Boy from nowhere Tim van Rijthoven hits big time at Wimbledon

Netherlands' Tim van Rijthoven celebrates winning against Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili at the end of their men's singles tennis match on the fifth day of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on Friday

Netherlands' Tim van Rijthoven celebrates winning against Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili at the end of their men's singles tennis match on the fifth day of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on Friday. Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP

Published Jul 1, 2022

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London — Dutch wild card Tim van Rijthoven has taken a long, slow and agonising road to the last 16 at Wimbledon, which has included the best part of three years lost to injury.

On Friday, however, the 25-year-old buried all the painful memories as his dream Grand Slam debut continued with a straight-sets win over Nikoloz Basilashvili.

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Ranked outside the top 250 at the start of the year, Van Rijthoven won the 's-Hertogenbosch grass-court title last month, defeating world number one Daniil Medvedev in the final.

It was his ATP main draw debut and that stunning success opened the door for the All England Club to award him a Wimbledon wild card.

It's a scenario that would have appeared a distant dream over the past seven years.

Plagued by physical problems since he was 18, Van Rijthoven has endured groin and wrist injuries as well as back spasms.

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One surgery was required to cure a thrombosis in his arm.

"They took about three years. I had a wrist surgery. I had an artery surgery," he said.

"I had 'golfer's elbow', which I got while playing tennis. That needed nine months."

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"I'm just happy to be in the place I am right now. I hope to be there for a lot more years."

Van Rijthoven has looked right at home on the Wimbledon grass, where compatriot Richard Krajicek captured the 1996 Wimbledon title.

In three rounds, he has fired 53 aces and been broken just three times.

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His 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win over 25th seed Basilashvili on Friday followed his four-set triumph over US 15th seed Reilly Opelka, another monster hitter.

"I never thought I would start off with an eight-match winning streak on the ATP Tour," he admitted.

"Obviously it's a very big confidence booster. Grass really suits me, really suits my game. I'm just kind of riding the wave right now, let's see where it ends."

If the formbook is any guide, the run should end in the next round where six-time champion and top seed Novak Djokovic will likely be waiting.

"Before the tournament started, it was a dream for me to play him," said Van Rijthoven, only the seventh man since 2000 to reach the round of 16 on his Grand Slam debut.

"So to be able to have that chance and to maybe even play on Centre Court or Court 1 is beautiful and magical."

AFP

Related Topics:

WimbledonTennis

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