Tiafoe is angryThe Netherlands are looking forward to the final week of the Davis Cup after beating the United States. Botic van de Zandschulp is reborn on the track. “It took me five months to play like that again.”
No country has won the Davis Cup more times than the United States, no less than 32 times. With four tennis players in the top 20 in the world, Captain Bob Bryan has plenty to choose from. But as with last year, the team was no match for the relatively modest tennis nation, the Netherlands. The world numbers 11 and 13 lost in the group stage of the Split final to Talon Greekspor and Boutique van de Zandschulp, the world numbers 24 and 68 respectively.
The latter expressed his hope in advance that a week in the Davis Cup, away from the singles tour, would be a cure to end the sharp decline in his career. This treatment has not yet worked against Finland on Tuesday. Against Otto Virtanen, a player outside the top 100, he felt the pressure of having to win the opener. Yesterday, against Tommy Ball, everything fell into place. On paper, he had nothing to lose, and that often worked to his advantage.
Van de Zandschulp (27 years old) was born again on the track. Great serving ratios, powerful shots from the baseline, quick legs and tight volleys. Make sure to include the mental part: straight back, head and shoulders up, and an occasional fist bump or smile. This is the complete player we have come to know in recent years, but he has also been absent for a while. He was never in trouble against the world No. 13, winning 7-6 6-2 and putting the Netherlands 1-0 ahead.
“It took five months to play like that again,” he said. In Munich in April, things went wrong in the final against Holger Röhn. Van de Zandschulp wasted four match points. As if that wasn’t painful enough, he injured his foot when he kicked “something.” The bone bruise did not heal immediately, so Van de Zandschulp did not get into a gentle competition rhythm while he thrived on it. This was followed by an unfortunate ankle injury in July. The summer went, the season went somewhat, because he disappointed in his three Grand Slams.
But in tennis, one match can change momentum in a year, especially if she is fundamentally lacking in self-confidence. Due to injuries, Van de Zandschulp has not yet been able to work constructively with his new coach Sven Groeneveld for a longer period of time. The coming months, with a number of serious tournaments and perhaps the final week of the Davis Cup on the calendar, will be perfect for that.
The Greek path finishes the job
After Van de Zandschulp, it was the turn of Talon Grekboer (27). In the first set he was much better than Frances Tiafoe, the world No. 11 who last week reached the quarter-finals of the US Open. The American, who has terrible statistics in the context of the Davis Cup, resisted. It became an intense battle in the third set, culminating in a tie-break, where the Greek Spor, who played excellently, eventually emerged the legitimate winner: 6-3, 6-7, 7-6.
The end of the match was strange. At 6-2 in the tie-break, Tiafoe was booked by the referee for smashing his racket. He received a penalty because he already had a warning to his name. This means that Mozespoor no longer has to play to take advantage of their match point. “It was a great match, I played well. You don’t want to end a quality match like that, but I’m happy we won.”
As a result, the Netherlands have already taken a 2-0 lead against the United States, and Davis Cup coach Paul Haarhuis’ men are on course to qualify, just as they did last year, for the final week of the country’s Davis Cup tournament. End of November in Malaga.
The third game was lost late in the evening. Thus, the Netherlands defeated the United States 2-1. Matoi Middelkoop and Wesley Koolhoff had to submit to Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram in three sets in Split, Croatia: 6-7 (5) 7-6 (3) 6-3.
Team captain Haarhuis is proud of his tennis players. “The boys really gave everything,” Haarhuis said. “Our individual matches were really strong. We are in good shape and still have a good chance to continue in the group.”
Haarhuis was impressed by Greek Spoor. “That was definitely the best game I’ve ever seen him play, he reached an unbelievably high level against Tiafoe,” the captain said. “But that’s also the way his year is going. You can see the confidence he’s given this year.”
Van de Zandschulp surprised by beating Paul. “Boteach has had a tough time in recent months, but he seems to be back.”
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