In a disappointing year in tennis, a turnaround seemed twice in the making. At Wimbledon, Botic van de Zandschulp won the “Character Bowl” from China’s Zhizhen Zhang. This is the first victory after four defeats with coach Sven Groeneveld at his side. But shortly after the tournament, the tennis player suffered an eighty percent tear in his ankle ligaments, a new hiccup.
Once recovered, he impressively won a Davis Cup encounter with the United States last September against Tommy Ball, then No. 13 in the world. This was once again the Van de Zandschulp of, say, the 2021 US Open and 2022 Wimbledon, with his straight back, head held high and sometimes dazzling play.
But at the next ATP tournament in Astana there was an immediate collapse to low-ranked Russian Alexander Shevchenko. It represents his year. Van de Zandschulp has never fallen into a gentle rhythm, although he is a player who thrives on it. Three injuries certainly didn’t help. At the beginning of this year, he suffered an injury to his thigh. There was a bone bruise on his foot, after the painful loss in the final match in Munich to Holger Röhn, after wasting four match points.
Peace of mind
At the beginning of May, he appointed Groeneveld, the Dutch tennis coach most experienced at international level, who has worked with Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova, Michael Stich and others. A promising option. It was clear that the mental aspect in particular had to become the spearhead. No one doubts Van de Zandschulp’s tennis qualities. He was the first to indicate that he was looking for more peace of mind. Although he is a perfectionist, setbacks have a very big impact on his playing style. “Good and long-term cooperation with the coach is now important,” Davis Cup captain Paul Haarhuis said after Groneveld’s appointment.
But because of those foot injuries, the two were initially unable to work on things structurally. This has been the case for the past two months, but both concluded that there was “insufficient basis for further cooperation.” In Basel, where Van de Zandschulp plays the second round on Thursday, Groeneveld is no longer there. Neither of them provides further explanation. Groeneveld has not spoken to the media for the past six months anyway.
Considering the results alone, the break may be understandable. The four matches Van de Zandschulp has won on the ATP Tour recently have been against players outside the top 50. There were ten defeats. He has dropped to 65th in the world rankings, but Van de Zandschulp is not a player you can understand in a few months. So a more sustainable relationship with Grüneveld would have been interesting.
Now Van de Zandschulp has to look for a new coach again. On the one hand, at 28 years old, he still has plenty of time to improve on his best performance and ranking (22nd). His potential is not under discussion in the tennis world. On the other hand, it is important to make the right decision now and find a coach who will have the opportunity to press certain buttons for a longer period of time. Because if there’s anyone who doesn’t benefit from more turmoil, it’s Van de Zandschulp.
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