5 things to know about Novak Djokovic’s next opponent: Tim Van Rijthoven | ATP Tour

Tim van Rijthoven has had a dream comeback this grass season. When he joined the Libema Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch earlier this month, he had never won a match at an ATP Tour event. Not only did he win the ATP 250 title, the Dutchman is now entering the fourth round at Wimbledon, where he meets top seed Novak Djokovic.

Prior to this year, van Rijthoven had never played in qualifying at a Major. Now the wild card has a chance to stun a 20-time Grand Slam champion.

Before the game, here are five things to know about the 25-year-old.

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He dreamed of playing Djokovic
When Djokovic defeated Miomir Kecmanovic on Friday, he fulfilled van Rijthoven’s dream. The Dutchman is dying to take on the six-time Wimbledon champion.

β€œBefore the tournament started it was a dream for me to play against him. To have that chance and maybe even play on Center Court or Court 1 is beautiful and magical,” said van Rijthoven. “I go into every match thinking I can win the match. Also against Djokovic I will go into this match and think that I can win this match.”

Van Ritjhoven will be confident knowing he is 2-0 against top 10 opponents. In ‘s-Hertogenbosch, home favorites upset Felix Auger-Aliassime and Daniil Medvedev en route to the cup.

The Dutchman attributes his rise to his mentality
Some players level up because they improve a particular shot. According to van Rijthoven, it’s all about his mental game.

“It was in my head, yes. But for different players there are different things to work on. For another player it might be the serve, others might be the forehand, might be the backhand,” said van Rijthoven. “I always felt like it was in my head, so it was the head for me. In the game of tennis, in my opinion, it’s one of the biggest parts, one of the most important things to be honest and to be positive.

The Dutchman has struggled for years on the ATP Challenger Tour, where he owns a 47-53 record. He is the sixth player to win an ATP Tour trophy without ever triumphing on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Tim has overcome injury struggles
Van Rijthoven broke the top 300 of the Pepperstone ATP rankings for the first time in 2016, but was only able to move into the top 250 in September of last year. Part of that is due to injuries he’s been dealing with.

The Dutchman has suffered three injuries, which he described as “severe”. He underwent wrist surgery and had surgery on a vein in his right arm in February 2020 to treat a thrombosis. Van Rijthoven also took nine months to recover from a golfer’s elbow.

He loves golf and his dream job might surprise you
Although van Rijthoven suffered from a golfer’s elbow while playing tennis, he enjoys playing golf. Colleague Casper Ruud has an Instagram page dedicated to golf, which the Dutchman follows.

β€œI love golf. I am addicted to golf. I follow Casper’s golf page on Instagram,” said van Rijthoven after winning his first title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. “I’ve been thinking about playing a few holes tonight!”

His dream job might surprise you. Van Rijthoven wants to own a restaurant.

“I would probably choose a pasta restaurant,” said van Rijthoven. “I love pasta.”

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Tim is part of a new wave of Dutch stars
This time last year there were no Dutch players in the top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP rankings. There are now two in the top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Live rankings – Botic van de Zandschulp and Tallon Griekspoor – and van Rijthoven is right behind at No. 104 in the world. Van de Zandschulp, who reached the quarterfinals of last year’s US Open, will meet Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the third round on Saturday.

β€œI think the Dutch are very positive about what is happening right now. They are just very happy that they can take care of another player besides Griekspoor and van de Zandschulp. [whom] they also like to watch because I also like to watch them,” said van Rijthoven. “Now they have three players to watch out for, which I think they’re very grateful for.”

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