Tennis player Wesley Kohlhoff, 34, finally achieved the coveted ‘peace’ mark at Wimbledon almost two months ago, but the son of former international footballer Juri Kohlhoff is now looking to achieve further success. With a win over the United States on Thursday in Split, the Netherlands will qualify for the Davis Cup quarter-finals.
Finally he succeeded, after all those attempts that ended either in the final or in the quarter-finals: with his British partner Neil Skupski, with whom Kohlhoff had been playing doubles for a year and a half, he won the biggest tennis title ever. , Wimbledon.
The Wimbledon title is really important
Well, he already won the mixed doubles at Roland Garros last year with American Ina Shibahara, but this win at Wimbledon is even more significant. “This is what I always wanted, of course: to win Wimbledon,” says Kohlhoff, sitting in the players’ hotel, about 15 kilometers up the pretty street in the Croatian port city. “Like any tennis player, but it makes sense. And I can tell you: it feels very good. It’s not like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders, but it’s nice to be Wimbledon champion.”
For this reason, it is strange that Kohlhoff will start his campaign as an underdog against the United States on Thursday. Naturally, he will not play with his usual partner Skupski in the Nations Championship. But also with Matui Middelkoop, who has been one of the top 40 doubles players in the world for years, Kohlhof, who until recently was No. 1 in the world, is a very strong duo.
“Cousin” Krajicek is now the best doubles player in the world
But yeah, Kohlhoff and Middlekoop can’t compete with the current ranking of the duo that would likely include US Captain Bob Bryan. Rajeev Ram, who recently won the US Open doubles title with Briton Joe Salisbury, is ranked fifth. Austin Krajicek, who claims to be a distant cousin of Wimbledon champion Richard, also took over for Kohlhoff, who had never made it further than the round of 16 in New York with Skupski, and Kohlhoff was thus relegated, despite winning Wimbledon. Al-Nasr has risen three places in the world rankings and is now fourth.
“Yes, it will be very difficult,” Kohlhoff is looking forward to the showdown with Krajicek and Rahm. “We found a very strong group with Finland, Croatia and the United States. But it might also be good to start as an underdog for once. It takes some pressure off.”
Not a well paced duo
Moreover, as the Zevenaar-born tennis player, who has never advanced beyond No. 462 (2013) in the ATP Singles Rankings, knows: Rahm and Krajicek are not a coaching duo. ,,of course no. I don’t think they played together, maybe once or twice. In this regard, it can be an advantage for me and for Matoi.”
Last year, the Netherlands, with Koolhof and Middelkoop in the doubles role, managed to pull off something exciting against the United States. In the previous edition of the Davis Cup finals in Glasgow, the Americans surprisingly won the last match, although the Netherlands had already qualified for the quarter-finals thanks to their victory over Great Britain. At that time, Kohlhoff and Middlekoop beat Jack Sock and Rajeev Ram.
Also a tough match against the USA in singles
In singles, Talon Grekboer (ATP-24) and Boutique van de Zandschulp (ATP-68) are likely to compete against Frances Tiafoe (ATP-11) and Tommy Paul (ATP-13) on Thursday. Not an easy task either.
However, the pitch at the Arena Gripe Sports Center in Split, where the Netherlands beat Finland 2-1 on Tuesday, is in excellent condition, Koolhof says. “There is nothing to complain about. The same track we beat Slovakia in Groningen in February, so that’s not the reason. “The stadium is a bit run down, from the 1970s with little recent maintenance, if you see it that way.”
“It would be nice if more students came.”
Kohlhof, who will visit his grandmother in Berta again soon, says the public support could use more ounces. “We had about 50 people cheering against Finland. That was a bit disappointing after that match in Groningen against Slovakia. We actually miss the students from Groningen a lot. They gave great support against Slovakia. But yes, tickets are not cheap and it’s not even close of course. But “It would be very nice if a few more groups could come. From Groningen or other student cities, it doesn’t matter.”
This applies to the match against the United States, which if won would book a place in the knockout stage of the Davis Cup, in which eight teams will take part in Malaga at the end of November. But if there is no victory over the United States, the match against host country Croatia next Sunday will be decisive. Looking ahead, Kohlhoff said: “Then we’ll have to win this thing to finish between the top two teams in the group, and then of course we’ll need all the support we can get here. So, if you don’t have anything to do yet, come here and support us. We can really Use that.”
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