Botic On Nadal Challenge: 'Maybe I Can Hurt Him'
On Monday, the Dutchman will get another crack at the 22-time Grand Slam champion when the pair face off in the fourth round at Wimbledon
“I played him at Roland Garros and I think at the moment, [that is] the biggest challenge in tennis," van de Zandschulp said. "I think it's going to be [a] tough one here [at Wimbledon], but, [I have] more confidence here to really make a shot… Maybe I can hurt him on grass.”
Ahead of his match against Nadal, the 26-year-old recalled his favourite memories of watching the World No. 4 play, while also discussing the Spaniard’s legacy.
“I think what he has done, winning 22 Grand Slams, is something nobody is ever going to do [again]. Maybe Djokovic is the only one [who] is going to do it,” van de Zandschulp said.
“[I remember the] match he played against Federer, the final here [in 2008]. I think it went pretty late, in five sets. That one was quite insane. I think he had match points in the fourth [set] and Federer hit a backhand down the line on match point,” he added. “I think that match stands out for me.”
Many fans will be watching van de Zandschulp for the first time when he takes to Centre Court on Monday evening. Over the past year, the Dutchman has enjoyed a stunning rise, climbing from No. 139 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to a current career-high No. 25.
In that time, he earned his first Top 10 win against Andrey Rublev, before he advanced to his maiden tour-level final in Munich in April.
“I think all the parts are falling together, fitting together,” van de Zandschulp said when analysing his season. “I have the feeling during the match my game starts to come together and I'm striking the ball well. I think I can keep up the level for the duration of the match, because I feel physically good. That is why I have confidence in the long matches. Maybe that's a reason why I play more consistently at the Slams.”
With confidence levels high and his game in good shape, the 21st seed will look to learn the lessons from Paris and make his biggest mark yet by capturing a dream win over Nadal.